SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin (AP) — Some of the greatest comebacks in major championships usually require a collapse of some magnitude, so it’s easy to overlook the winner.
Nick Faldo shot 67 in the final round of the 1996 Masters, which is remembered as much for Greg Norman blowing a six-shot lead with a 78. Paul Lawrie holds the record for making up a 10-shot deficit in the final round of the 1999 British Open. His 67 matched the low score of the tournament, and yet the strongest memory from Carnoustie were the follies of Jean Van de Velde.
And then there’s Arnold Palmer. His greatest charge was that 65 at Cherry Hills in the 1960 U.S. Open to make up a seven-shot deficit. Hardly anyone remembers that Mike Souchak shot 75 over the final 18 holes.
The PGA Championship is no exception.
Here’s one view of the five greatest comebacks in PGA Championship history:
5. BOB TWAY
In what became known as the “Saturday Slam,” Greg Norman had the lead going into the final round of every major in 1986. The PGA Championship was his biggest margin going into the final round, four shots over Bob Tway at Inverness.
This was as much a collapse as a comeback. Norman still had a four-shot lead going to the back nine when he took double bogey on No. 11, started hitting wayward shots and closed with a 76. Tway, however, did his part. He reached the par-5 13th in two for a birdie and saved par with a tough chip on the 17th. His comeback was complete with a shot that defined Norman’s bad luck. Tway holed a bunker shot on the 18th hole for the win. Only 12 players shot par or better the last day. Tway was one of them with a 70.
4. KEEGAN BRADLEY
The scores alone don’t do this justice at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011. Keegan Bradley was only one shot behind Jason Dufner and Brendan Steele going into the final round, closed with a 68 and won in a three-hole playoff.
It’s the final hour that made this one of the great comebacks.
Bradley chipped through the 15th green and into the water and made triple bogey, putting him five shots behind with three to play. Bradley pounded a drive that set up birdie on No. 16. He holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th. Behind him, Dufner made bogey on Nos. 15 and 16, and then three-putted the 17th for bogey.
Both made pars on the 18ths, and Bradley built a quick lead in the playoff to win his first major.
3. BOB ROSBURG
Bob Rosburg was famous during his years as a TV analyst for saying, “He’s got no shot.” He could have been saying the same about himself in the 1959 PGA Championship at Minneapolis Golf Club. He was nine shots behind at the halfway point, and still six shots behind Jerry Barber going into the final 18 holes.
He made up ground quickly. Rosburg went out in 30 and closed with a 66, the best score of the final round. Barber still appeared to be in control with a long birdie on the 15th. Three pars would have been enough to win. Instead, he made two bogeys and finished one shot behind. Doug Sanders missed a 30-inch putt on the 17th hole to join Barber as the runner-up. Sanders would miss another short putt a decade later against Jack Nicklaus at St. Andrews.
2. STEVE ELKINGTON
Steve Elkington was six shots out of the lead going into the final round at Riviera in 1995, and it looked like a hopeless cause. He was chasing Ernie Els, the 25-year-old South African who was so dominant over three days that he set a major championship record at 197.
But it’s not easy playing with a big lead, even for the Big Easy.
Elkington came out firing. Els came out tentative. Elkington closed with a 64, which remains the greatest closing round by a PGA champion. And it almost wasn’t enough. Colin Montgomerie made an 18-foot birdie on the last hole for a 65 to force a playoff.
As if that 64 wasn’t enough, Elkington buried a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole.
1. JOHN MAHAFFEY
John Mahaffey still holds two PGA Championship records — highest start by a winner (75) and greatest comeback in the final round (seven shots).
He opened with a 75 at Oakmont in the 1978 PGA and already was eight shots behind Tom Watson, who already had three majors and was headed to a wire-to-wire win in this one. That was before Mahaffey made his big charge with a 66, and Watson struggled to a 73. Even after Watson faded, Mahaffey still needed some help. Jerry Pate had a 4-foot par putt on the last hole to win and watched it catch the lip.
Mahaffey, who lost an 18-hole playoff in the U.S. Open three years earlier, won with a birdie on the second hole. That was as close as Watson ever got to winning the PGA Championship. And Mahaffey’s record for a seven-shot comeback still stands.