A Look at 5 Iconic PGA Champions and What Made Their Win So Famous
In this year’s edition of the PGA Championship, 29-year-old Brooks Koepka won the title, two strokes ahead of runner-up Dustin Johnson. The win was Koepka’s fourth major of the season and he also became the first player to successfully defend both PGA Championships and the US Open.
Though certainly noteworthy, the PGA Championships’ storied history means it’s seen numerous other iconic victories before. From John Mahaffey’s awe-inspiring comeback down to a stellar performance by Tiger Woods, below is a look at a few iconic PGA Championship wins and what made them so famous.
John Mahaffey (1978)
Celebrated by The Stacker as one of the best comeback wins in golf major history, Mahaffey started off well behind leader Tom Watson. When Watson started to falter, however, Mahaffey wasted no time in catching up and rallied seven strokes with just 14 holes left to play. At the end of the final round, Mahaffey suddenly found himself tied with both Tom Watson and Jerry Pate. Pate was then defeated in a sudden-death playoff, earning Mahaffey a memorable win. Though he would never again finish in the top five of a major, the intensity and closeness of that PGA Championship ensures Mahaffey a spot on this list.
Jack Nicklaus (1980)
A breakdown of Nicklaus’ achievements in the majors by Live About, notes that the golf legend won the 1980 edition of the Championship by seven strokes over Andy Bean, back then a tournament record. This victory is notable for the fact that it was his fifth and final PGA Championship win, equalling Walter Hagen’s record for most victories ever at the event. It was also the 17th major victory of his career, and he would go on to win a record of 18 majors before his retirement. This record still stands.
Steve Elkington (1995)
Another notable comeback belongs to Steve Elkington. Though he managed to score a 68, 67 and another 68 during his first three rounds at the 1995 edition of the Championship, he was still behind by six strokes heading into the tournament’s final day. The Australian then scored a final-round of 64, sending him into a tie for the lead with Colin Montgomerie. Elkington birdied the first hole in a sudden death playoff, handing him the win that would be a major factor in his eventual induction into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.
Tiger Woods (2006)
Tiger Woods has definitely contributed a number of iconic moments to golf and among them is his comeback to the sport in 2017 after a turbulent period in his life riddled with injury, legal trouble and rehab.
Yet his win at the 2006 PGA Championship is also worth mentioning. Bleacher Report details that it was the year the tournament returned to Medinah Country Club for the first time since 1999, the same year Woods captured his first PGA Championship. Woods’ win here then gave him a few records: he became the first player to win the PGA twice on the same course, matched the course record with a -7 under 65, and also became the “first in the modern Grand Slam era to win two major championships in each of two consecutive years”.
Rory McIlroy (2012)
McIlroy recently celebrated his birthday, and on that day Yahoo looked back at his record breaking victory at the PGA Championship in 2012. He won by a record margin of 8-shots, which led many to compare him to Tiger Woods. McIlroy then went on to win it again in 2014, and has been looking for his third PGA Championship since. His missed out again this year after a disappointing shot section, which in many ways reflects how it has been a mixed year for McIlroy. A preview of the Scottish Open by bwin Golf reports that McIlroy has won twice so far this season and is currently 3rd in the PGA Tour. Yet despite some strong tournaments he has not performed to his usual standard in the top competitions. His biggest disappointment was missing the cut during the British Open at Royal Portrush in his home country of Northern Ireland. Despite that setback he is a strong contender for next year’s PGA Championship and will be looking to get back some of his record breaking form from 2012.