Ranking the 10 Most Unexpected Major Victories in the Past Decade

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMay 18, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Unexpected Major Victories in the Past Decade

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    John Daly's win in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick as the eighth alternate was certainly one of the most unexpected major victories of all time.

    Ben Crenshaw was 43 years old when he won his second Green Jacket in 1995. His longtime teacher Harvey Penick had died earlier in the week and the 43-year-old Crenshaw was on the back nine of his career.

    Here is a ranking of the ten most unexpected major winners over the past decade.

No. 10 Louis Oosthuizen Won the 2010 Open Championship

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    South African Louis Oosthuizen had won just one European Tour tournament and five events on the Sunshine Tour prior to his win in the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.

    He was certainly not a household name even to serious golf fans.

    Oosthuizen was a product of the Ernie Els junior golf program and his 2010 Open Championship in heavy winds over the old course at St. Andrews showed his extraordinary ball striking abilities.

    He beat runner-up Lee Westwood by seven strokes to claim the Claret Jug.

    He has since won four tournaments on the European Tour and gone onto become one of the top-ranked players in the world. He is currently ranked No. 7 on the Official World Golf Rankings.

No. 9 Darren Clarke Won the 2011 Open Championship.

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    Darren Clarke had turned professional in 1990 and had a stellar golf career.

    In 2000 he defeated Tiger Woods 4&3 in the Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship when Woods was at the peak of his golfing prowess.

    His last win on the PGA Tour prior to the 2011 Open Championship was the 2003 NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

    At 42-years-old, many felt his time to win a major championship had passed and he would be yet another great player to never win a major championship.

    Clarke proved the naysayers wrong and forever will be known as the 2011 Champion Golfer. 

No. 8 Angel Cabrera Won the 2007 U.S. Open

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    Angel Cabrera's first win on the PGA Tour was the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

    He has won 44 professional events with most of those coming from South America. A relative unknown, he used accuracy off the tee and a solid iron game to master the treacherous conditions at legendary Oakmont.

    He has since won the 2009 Masters and was a contender for a second Green Jacket in 2011 and 2013.

    Four shots back of the leaders at the start of the final round in 2007, Cabrera posted one-under par 69 to best Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, who finished tied for second place. 

No. 7 Mike Weir Captured the 2003 Masters

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    Mike Weir is the only Canadian to win a major title with his 2003 Masters Tournament championship.

    He was considered too short off the tee to conquer the demanding Augusta National golf course. On top of everything else he was a left-handed player and a lefty had never won at Augusta National.

    Weir used a magnificent chipping game and a deft touch on the greens to capture the Green Jacket.

    He was in second place starting the final round, posted a four-under par 68 and ended the day tied with Len Mattiace, who had posted a seven-under par 65. Weir won the sudden-death playoff on the first extra hole.

    Weir had a couple wins after his 2003 Masters win but injuries have limited his success. 

No. 6 Zach Johnson Won the 2007 Masters

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    Augusta National Golf Club does not normally reward short hitters, but Zach Johnson used an out-of-this-world short game to capture the 2007 Masters.

    He did not attempt to hit any of the par-5 holes in two shots over the entire four rounds. Still, he wedged his third shots close enough to make birdies and add valuable pars to his winning scorecard.

    Unseasonably cool temperatures and high winds put an even higher demand on accurate play and Johnson was one of the most consistent and accurate players on the PGA Tour.

    He finished two shots better than Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini to claim his only major victory.  

N0. 5 Shaun Micheel Won the 2003 PGA Championship

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    Shaun Micheel was a journeyman golfer. After turning professional in 1992, he plied his trade in lesser tours around the world.

    Micheel entered the 2003 PGA Championship ranked No. 169 on the Official World Golf Rankings. He was not on anyone's radar at the beginning of the week.

    After 69-68-69 over the first three rounds, he shared the 54-hole lead with Chad Campbell. Micheel played great golf and posted an even-par 70 in the final round to win by two shots.

    The 2003 PGA Championship is Micheel's only win on the PGA Tour, but he did finish runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club.

No. 4 Michael Campbell Won the 2005 U.S. Open

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    Tiger Woods was making a move on the final day of the 2005 U.S. Open held at Pinehurst No. 2.

    A stubborn Michael Campbell who had started the day two shots ahead of Woods matched his one-under par 69 and won the 2005 U.S. Open.

    Campbell, from New Zealand, had won six events on the European Tour, but had never won on the PGA Tour. 

    After winning the HSBC Match Play Championship later in 2005, Campbell has not won since.

No. 3 Y.E. Yang Beat Tiger Woods in the 2009 PGA Championship

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    Tiger Woods had led all three rounds of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine Country Club and was expected to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy for his 15th major title after the final round on Sunday.

    A little known South Korean golfer, Y.E. Yang, had a different scenario in mind. 

    Hitting hybrid clubs from the fairway with uncanny accuracy while Woods was lofting mid-irons into the greens, Yang posted a final round 70 and beat Woods by three shots.

    It was the first time Woods had failed to convert the win when leading after 54 holes. 

    Yang displayed a gritty performance that impressed golf fans and he became the first South Korean to win a major championship. 

    It was his second PGA Tour win in 2009 and he has not won on tour since.

No. 2 Todd Hamilton Won the 2004 Open Championship

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    Todd Hamilton had turned professional in 1987, but failed to win his PGA Tour card on his first seven attempts played internationally.

    He was one of the all-time leading winners on the Japan Golf Tour.

    He finally earned his PGA Tour card in the 2003 Q-School and played full time on PGA Tour in 2004.

    He won the 2004 Honda Classic early in the year. His inclusion into the field of the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club was only his fourth appearance in that event.

    Using a little known practice of using a hybrid club to chip when just off the tricky Troon greens kept his ball low in the winds and allowed him to continually save pars.

    The leaderboard included Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Davis Love and Tiger Woods.

    Els and Hamilton were tied after regulation and Hamilton won the four-hole aggregate playoff by one shot and claimed the Claret Jug.

No. 1 Ben Curtis Won the 2003 Open Championship

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    Ben Curtis turned professional in 2000 and after a few tries on the Hooters Tour qualified for the PGA Tour via the 2002 Q-School.

    Curtis had made eight cuts, but missed five cuts on tour prior to heading to Royal St. Georges for the Open Championship.

    His best finish was a T-13 at the Western Open the week before the Open Championship.

    Using this strong finish as a confidence boost, his final round two-under par 69 bested Vijay Singh and Thomas Bjorn by one shot. Tiger Woods and Davis Love finished two shots back.

    Curtis' win at the 2003 Open Championship in his rookie season on the PGA Tour is one of the most unique and impressive major victories of all time.