9 things you didn't know about the PGA Championship
August 05, 2014
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1. (1977) Shake Your Groove Thing
Chaos greeted players at the 1977 PGA at Pebble Beach, when multiple iron sets were declared non-conforming due to grooves that were too large and too close together. Tom Watson, who had already won the Masters and British Open that year with his Ram irons, had to forgo his clubs, as well as his backup set. To tee it up, he borrowed a set of Roger Maltbie’s clubs on Thursday morning.
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2. (1963) Too Hot to Handle
One of the hottest weeks ever for a PGA Championship saw Jack Nicklaus win his first PGA. “I don’t believe we had one afternoon where the temperature stayed below 110 degrees,” said Nicklaus, who had to hoist the Wanamaker trophy with a towel. “The trophy had been toasting in the sun the whole day. It was so hot that if you touched it you would have blistered your fingers.” Ouch.
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3. (1948) Brother, Can You Spare A Win?
Mike Turnesa made a splendid run to reach the final of the 1948 PGA Championship, then a match-play event, but fell to Ben Hogan 7 & 6. That made Mike the third different Turnesa brother to lose a PGA final. Older sibling Joe lost to Walter Hagen in the 1927 final, and brother Jim dropped the final to Sam Snead in 1942.
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4. (1916) I’ll Fund Your Group, But I Won’t Play Your Game
The hefty PGA Championship trophy is named for Rodman Wanamaker, son of a department store magnate, who spearheaded the creation of the PGA of America in 1916. He donated $2,580 in prize money, the trophy and some medals to fund the first PGA Championship, played that same year. Wanamaker did not play golf, but as a sports enthusiast and keen merchandiser, realized the benefits of promoting the game.
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5. (1989) The King’s Final Roar
Arnold Palmer’s last major victory was the 1964 Masters, but twenty-five years later, Palmer took another major lead. The PGA was the one major that had eluded him, but at Kemper Lakes in suburban Chicago, the 59-year-old King turned back the clock in the first round, dropping a birdie on the 15th hole to grab the lead at 6-under. Sadly, he would finish bogey-bogey for 68, and go 74-81-70 for a T63.
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6. (2014) Gahm On
Why do so many majors go to Louisville, Kentucky’s Valhalla Golf Club? Valhalla founder Dwight Gahm (pronounced “Game”) worked a deal with the PGA of America to sell interests in the club (25 percent in 1993, 25 percent in 1996 and the other 50 percent in 2000), the idea being that the PGA wanted to own and operate several prestigious clubs that could host its major events, much like the PGA Tour with its TPC network.
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7. (1957) Don’t Play With Matches
The PGA Championship utilized a match play format from Day 1, modeling itself after a prestigious English professional event, the News of the World tournament. The experiment finally failed in the 1950s, when crowds stayed away after the favorites lost in early rounds. Following the money-losing 1957 edition, when little-known Lionel Hebert triumphed at a time when television considerations were taking hold for good, match-play had enjoyed its last hurrah.
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8. (1942) Will the Trophy Fit in the Submarine?
Sam Snead captured the 1942 PGA Championship at New Jersey’s Seaview Country Club precisely one day before he reported for duty in the U.S. Navy. Predictably, the final match was a battle, with Snead unable to shake Army Corporal Joe Turnesa until the Slammer holed a 60-foot chip shot at the 35th hole.
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9. (1929) Stymied Again
The stymie was a situation in match play where one player’s ball blocked another’s path to the hole. Marking a ball was forbidden, and players would lay strategic stymies. In the ’29 final at Hillcrest in L.A., Johnny Farrell was one down to Leo Diegel when on the 27th hole, a stymied Farrell knocked Diegel’s ball into the hole with his own putt from five feet. The very next hole, Farrell repeated the feat, went 3 down and lost the match at the 32nd. The stymie rule was abolished for PGA Championship play before the 1944 event, and banished for good in 1952.
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