Ranking the Most Incredible Feats in PGA Championship History

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystAugust 9, 2013

Ranking the Most Incredible Feats in PGA Championship History

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    The grand stage of a major tournament is the perfect place to post a monster performance. Outstanding accomplishments in the spotlight of a PGA Championship title hunt stand the test of time, land in golfing lore and do plenty for a player's reputation.

    Masterful efforts and commanding victories highlight decades of dramatic competition. We take a trip down memory lane to rank the most incredible feats this event has seen.

8. Sam Snead Continues to Challenge for Titles in His Sixties

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    Beloved for his straw hat and flawless swing, Sam Snead found the fountain of youth somewhere along the way. The three-time PGA Championship winner (1942, 1949, 1951) refused to fade into the sunset without fighting for another title.

    A 60-year-old Snead finished fourth at the 1972 PGA Championship. He followed that effort with a ninth-place showing in 1973 and fell just shy of a win in 1974, when he settled for third.

    Unsurprisingly, "Slammin' Sammy" set a new record for top-10 finishes in a major after the age of 60. Not bad for a man who played long before nutritional supplements and anti-aging products became all the rage.

7. 20-Year-Old Gene Sarazen Follows U.S. Open Win with PGA Championship Title

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    More than 90 years after his first of three PGA Championship victories, Gene Sarazen remains the youngest man to win at the PGA Championship. "The Squire" was 20 years, 5 months and 22 days old when he prevailed in 1922.

    The startling win occurred one month after he captured the U.S. Open title. Sarazen would repeat as PGA Championship victor in 1923 and win the tournament again in 1933.

    He is one of three men to win at least three PGA Championships during the match play era (1916-1957).

6. Rory McIlroy Soars to No. 1 Ranking with Historically Dominant Triumph

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    Jack Nicklaus completed his fifth and final PGA Championship win with a seven-stroke margin of victory in 1980, establishing a new tournament record. That mark stood for more than three decades until 23-year-old Rory McIlroy caught fire on Kiawah Island.

    The Northern Irishman surged past the competition at the 2012 PGA Championship, capping off his commanding effort with a six-under-par Sunday. He dropped a 25-foot birdie putt to finish the final hole, improving to 13 under for the tournament and creating history in the process.

    McIlroy finished with an eight-stroke advantage, surpassing Nicklaus' hallowed mark. He then ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

5. Julius Boros Becomes Oldest Man to Win Wanamaker Trophy

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    Nearly 50 years after his victory in San Antonio, Julius Boros remains the oldest player to win a major title. The Connecticut native collected his only Wannamaker Trophy at the ripe age of 48 years, four months and 18 days.

    He was more than three years older than any other PGA Championship winner, past or present. Boros battled back from a two-stroke deficit in the final round of the 1968 tournament to top Bob Charles and Arnold Palmer by one shot.

    He continued to vie for major titles into his fifties, tying for seventh place at the 1973 U.S. Open.

4. John Mahaffey Erases Seven-Stroke Deficit with 14 Holes to Play

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    John Mahaffey may have started the 1978 PGA Championship with an opening-round score of 75, but he finished with a 66 and completed a seismic comeback. The greatest rally in PGA history ended when Mahaffey birdied the second hole of a playoff with Tom Watson and Jerry Pate.

    He trailed Watson by seven shots with 14 holes remaining in his final round. Instead of wrapping up a ho-hum effort, Mahaffey made history by capitalizing on Watson's mistakes during the closing stretch.

    The story is yet another example of why a tournament is never over until someone sinks the final shot.

3. John Daly Jumps from Obscurity to Stardom in One Weekend

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    John Daly wasn't expected to compete at the 1991 PGA Championship but he ultimately stole the show at Crooked Stick. The PGA Tour rookie was listed as the tournament's ninth alternate before becoming a late addition to the field.

    Daly delivered a jaw-dropping performance, surprising opponents as he soared up the leaderboard. He completed a colossal underdog effort, winning by three strokes. 

    His career would feature another major title and several missteps but the golfing world will never forget what Daly achieved during that August weekend in Carmel, Ind.

2. Jack Nicklaus Nets 12 Top-Three Finishes

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    Jack Nicklaus is best known for his record 18 major titles and five PGA Championship wins, but you've got to give the man credit for all the years he managed to flirt with victory. The Golden Bear was tournament runner-up four times, more than any player in history.

    He settled for third place on three occasions. That gives Nicklaus a dozen top-three performances in 37 PGA Championship starts.

    Tiger Woods ranks second in this category but it's not even close. Woods owns six top-three efforts in his career.

1. Walter Hagen Wins Four Consecutive PGA Championships

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    This is a mark that may just be untouchable. During the match play era, Walter Hagen tallied four straight PGA Championship titles.

    His remarkable run (1924-'27) gave him five PGA Championship victories in all, three more than any player in history at the time. The win total stood above all others until Nicklaus earned his fifth title in 1980.

    Nicklaus never managed consecutive PGA Championship wins, while modern-day great Tiger Woods topped out at two straight titles.