What is the biggest final-round comeback in PGA Championship history?
PGA Championship

What is the biggest final-round comeback in PGA Championship history?

Credit: PGA of America


Winning the PGA Championship in recent memory has meant coming from the final two groups. In 18 of the last 20 years through 2016, the Wanamaker trophy winner has come from the final two pairings on Sunday. However, on occasion, a player makes a big final-round comeback to win the PGA of America's major championship.

So what's the biggest final-round comeback in PGA Championship history?

The biggest final-round comeback in PGA Championship history belongs to John Mahaffey, who won the 1978 PGA Championship after trailing the lead by seven shots through 54 holes. Through three rounds, Mahaffey was actually alone in fifth place at 3-under total at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh, Pa. He was two shots behind second place Jerry Pate. However, Tom Watson was 10 under through three rounds and five ahead entering the final round.

In the final round, Watson shot 2-over 73, while Mahaffey shot 66 and Pate shot 68 to get into a three-way playoff at 8-under 276.

The trio went into a sudden-death playoff for the PGA Championship starting on the par-4 first, which all three parred. On the second hole, the shorter par-4 second, Mahaffey made a 12-foot birdie putt to win his only major championship.

Four players have won the PGA Championship after trailing the lead by six shots enter the final round: Bob Rosburg (1959, T-6), Lanny Wadkins (1977, T-4), Payne Stewart (1989, T-11) and Steve Elkington (1995, T-5).

There is an asterisk involved in this record, as from 1916-1957, the PGA Championship was a match-play competition.

The largest final-round comeback in major championship history belongs to Paul Lawrie, who came back from 10 down enter the final round of the 1999 British Open Championship to win the Claret jug.


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