The Ringo of the four major championships, the PGA Championship is a distant fourth to the other three tournaments in terms of prestige. Alternatively, it’s the Rodney Dangerfield of major championships: It gets no respect.
“The PGA Championship: We’re a little tougher than the average Tour event,” the tournament slogan ought to be. Up until 1957, the PGA Championship was a match play event, which has its pros and cons but at least was a point of differentiation.
That said, the PGA Championship has produced some fine theater in recent years: John Daly’s first major win in 1992, Tiger Woods playoff triumph against the unheralded Bob May at Valhalla in 2000, Phil Mickelson’s major breakthrough at Baltusrol in 2005, Rory vs. Phil vs. Rickie at Valhalla in 2014.
Let’s take a look at the winners of the PGA Championship since 2010 and see how they got the job done.
2016: Jimmy Walker, Baltusrol
Last year, weather wreaked havoc on Baltusrol, leading to the only final round of a major championship where preferred lies were in effect. Jimmy Walker was steady, parring his opening nine holes before holing a bunker shot at the 10th in the shot of the tournament.
Jason Day did everything he could but came up just short, and Jimmy Walker raised his first major trophy in wire-to-wire fashion.
2015: Jason Day, Whistling Straits
Jason Day blitzed the field at Whistling Straits in 2015, tearing up the course with his booming drives, towering iron shots, and deft putting touch. He calmly dissected the Wisconsin track with a final-round 67 to break the then major scoring record with a 268/-20 total.
Jordan Spieth, looking for his third major of the season, could only come within three of Day, finishing second.
2014: Rory McIlroy, Valhalla
In one of the most exciting final rounds of a major championship in recent memory, Rory McIlroy began the day with a one-stroke lead. He looked keen to give things away at the start, however, playing his first six holes in two over.
Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, and Phil Mickelson, on the contrary, all got off to roarings starts. McIlroy’s eagle at the 10th hole jump started him, however, and while others faltered on the back-9, he continued to roll in birdies, eventually hoisting the massive Wanamaker Trophy in near darkness.
2013: Jason Dufner, Oak Hill
We all remember the photo of Jason Dufner nestled up to the Wanamaker Trophy, asleep in bed. His route to that point looked anything but certain during the final round of the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
Duff Daddy took the lead with a birdie at the fifth hole, going back and forth with Jim Furyk for most of the day. When Dufner bogeyed the final two holes, it looked as though his major championship dreams could again be crushed. However, neither Henrik Stenson nor Dustin Johnson could track him down and Dufner prevailed.
2012: Rory McIlroy, Kiawah Island
Early in the final round at Pete Dye’s maddening Kiawah Island, it looked like it was going to be Ian Poulter’s day as he began his round with five birdies. Carl Pettersson also showed signs he was on the path to victory, before being felled by a leaf of all things, crumbling thanks to a rules infraction.
McIlroy was always steady Sunday, carding a six-under 66 to lap the field by an astounding eight strokes: the largest winning margin ever in a PGA Championship.
2011: Keegan Bradley, Atlanta Athletic Club
If you wonder why Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner are such good buddies, remember they’ve been through a war (of sorts) together. The two battled down the stretch at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011.
Bradley was ahead but melted down late, pitching into the water en route to a triple bogey. However, Dufner then followed suit, doubling the 15th, to allow Bradley back into the picture. The two eventually went to a three-hole playoff, which Bradley summarily won.
2010: Martin Kaymer, Whistling Straits
It was tight at the top at Whistling Straits in 2010. Seven different golfers saw their name at the top of the leaderboard during the final round. Martin Kaymer rolled in a 15-footer for par at the final hole to get into a playoff with Bubba Watson, should no one post a lower score.
It looked like Dustin Johnson would do just that, however, as he arrived at the 18th hole with a one-stroke lead. We all remember the unfortunate events that followed: DJ grounded his club prior to his approach shot in what nobody knew was a bunker. It was, penalty assessed, Johnson misses out, Kaymer beats Watson in the three-hole playoff.