The 10 greatest PGA Championships of all time
From Hagen vs. Sarazen to John Daly turning America on to Big Bertha. We rank the 10 greatest PGA Championships in history.
Ask any average Joe over the age of 40 when golf became popular, and they will point to the summer of 1991 when John Daly introduced everyone to being the everyman in golf.
Prior to that year, golf was seen as an elitist sport for the country-club crowd. But when the portly, blonde-haired Daly busted out his Big Bertha driver and sent his drives booming down the fairways of Crooked Stick outside Indianapolis, the public took notice.
Here was a guy actually smoking cigarettes during a major and coming out of nowhere to make a name for himself – a name that endures today as crowds continue to flock to him at PGA Tour events.
Where is the 2023 PGA Championship?
Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., just outside of Rochester, will play host to this event for the first time since 2013. Founded 122 years ago in 1901 and best known for its East golf course, the club has hosted multiple major championships.
Who has the most PGA Championship wins?
Jack Nicklaus and Gene Sarazen won five PGA Championships apiece, and Tiger Woods is right behind them at four. Here’s hoping that Tiger recovers from ankle fusion surgery in time to compete, although that looks like a long shot.
Ranking the Top 10 Greatest PGA Championships of all time
- 1961 PGA Championship at Olympia Fields, Ill.
Winner: Jerry Barber
After a birdie on No. 16, Barber topped his drive barely 100 yards, but he recovered and nailed a 40-foot putt for par. Then, needing a birdie on the 436-yard 18th in near darkness, he hit a 3-iron approach 60 feet away and sank the putt. The next day, he won an 18-hole playoff against Don January.
- 1986 PGA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio
Winner: Bob Tway
Greg Norman held a four-shot lead heading into Sunday and still held it after nine holes, but in typical Norman fashion, he got unlucky. On the 72nd hole, Tway holed out from a greenside bunker and Norman, on the fringe, missed his birdie putt.
- 1942 PGA Championship at Seaview Country Club in Galloway, N.J.
Winner: Sam Snead
This was Snead’s last event before joining the U.S. Navy, and he reported for duty the next day. He was matched against an army corporal named Jim Turnesa, who had upset Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson in the quarters and semis. Snead won on the 35th hole by chipping in from 60 feet for birdie.
- 1963 PGA championship at Dallas Athletic Club in Dallas, Texas
Winner: Jack Nicklaus
With temperatures in the triple digits, Nicklaus came from three strokes back to win his first of five PGAs. That made him just the fourth player to have won all three American majors, and he was only 23 at the time.
- 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio
Winner: Paul Azinger
Azinger had to birdie four of the last seven holes just to make a playoff, and then Norman missed a 4-foot par putt on the second sudden-death hole to lose it. With the loss, Norman earned a dubious distinction by becoming just the second golfer to lose each of the four majors in a playoff.
- 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Winner: Davis Love III
This is remembered as the rainbow PGA. Love shot 66 on Saturday and was tied with Justin Leonard after three rounds. He pulled away late, and when he made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, a rainbow broke through the clouds.
- 2001 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.
Winner: David Toms
How’s this for Sunday drama: Toms aced the 243-yard par-3 15th hole for a two-shot lead over Phil Mickelson after three rounds. In the final round on the 18th hole, Toms’ drive found deep rough. Playing safe in the risk/reward category, Toms hit a wedge short of the pond in front of the green and hit another wedge close to make par on a 12-footer for the win.
- 1946 PGA Championship at Portland Golf Club in Raleigh Hills, Ore.
Winner: Ben Hogan
When we talk about dominance in sports, we have to remember what Hogan did. He was 34 years old when he won this one over Ed Oliver 6-and-4. He would go on to win 33 more times, including eight more major titles.
- 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y.
Winner: Jack Nicklaus
We will hear more about this one as this year’s event approaches at the same course. Nicklaus shot a third-round 66 to amass a three-stroke lead and wound up winning by seven. That margin of victory remained the largest for 33 years until Rory McIlroy won by eight in 2012 at Kiawah Island. Nicklaus became only the second player to win two majors in his 40s. The first was Ben Hogan in 1953, and Mark O’Meara made it three in 1998.
- 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.
Winner: John Daly
As alluded to above, this victory transcended golf because of Daly’s personality and the way he approached the game. He was the hardest swinger we had seen until Bryson DeChambeau came along. Daly didn’t have a practice round, but he was able to shoot 67 in the second round and take control of the tournament after getting in as the ninth alternate. Yeah, he had very long odds.
Parameters of Rankings
Everyone’s top 10 is different, but what we went for here were memorable moments, scenery and drama as we did in our Masters predictions column when we correctly predicted Jon Rahm’s victory.
Bet on PGA Championship Odds at Betway
Find PGA Championship odds and markets on the Betway sportsbook. You'll find all the latest money lines, place/finishing position bets, winning margin, nationality betting, hole-in-one, and futures. Or call it how you see it with our live golf betting in-play. All your Golf betting needs are covered at our online sportsbook.
Visit Betway’s Golf picks page for best bets and predictions throughout the season.