Reading is fundamental, but watching greatness is more fun. Honoring this week’s PGA Championship, we look back at the top five PGAs in the last 30 years. 

1991 – Daly hits it long and straight at Crooked Stick. 

Being the ninth alternate for an event is closer to the couch than the competition, and that’s where John Daly began the 1991 PGA Championship. A rookie, Daly missed 11 of 23 cuts that year but was still likely to secure his ‘92 tour card. 

Late Tuesday of tournament week, Daly received a call telling him he was now the first alternate for the event. Shortly after, Nick Price opted out of the tournament to be at his first child’s birth. Daly slid into Price’s spot, kept Price’s caddy and proceeded to take the golf world on a long, blonde, wild ride for his first win

1999 – Hola Niño

28 months had passed since Tiger Woods tamed Augusta and almost three years since he greeted us with, “Hello World.” With the lead Sunday, some began to wonder if Tiger was a one-hit-wonder as he flirted with danger on the back nine. Alas, Tiger held on to secure the front-end of his first back-to-back PGA Championship runs (he repeated in ‘06-’07). 

However, the real story of the week belonged to the budding 19-year old Spanish sensation nicknamed El Nino. Sergio Garcia scissor-kicked his way onto the scene with blind swings, boyish exuberance, and a runner-up finish in his first Major event. 

2000 – Who is Bob May?

By the 2000 PGA, few still doubted that Tiger was the real deal. Entering the tournament, he was the defending champion and had won the previous two majors that year. He’d go on to set a PGA Championship scoring record in event three of the “Tiger Slam,” but that didn’t mean he won running away. 

Another golfer matched the new scoring record and forced Tiger into a 3-hole playoff. It was Tiger’s first Major playoff win, and it was also the highest finish in any PGA event for his playoff competition: little-known journeyman, Bob May.  

2009 – Down goes Tiger

Everyone knew the stat. Tiger was 14-0 when holding a 54-hole lead at a Major, and El Tigre was primed for another notch in his belt in August 2009. Big Cat had it down to a science: take lead, grow lead, win Major — wash, rinse, repeat. 

Nobody told South Korean Y.E. Yang that was the plan. Trailing by 2 heading into Sunday, Yang (who had one win to Tiger’s 70) was tied with Woods at the turn. He holed an eagle chip on 14 to trump Tiger’s birdie there and take his first lead. Yang wouldn’t give it back. David had slain Goliath. 

2019 – Brooks goes back-to-back…again.

In 451 Major golf tournaments, only 31 titles have successfully been defended. In 2018, Brooks Koepka kept Tiger at bay to secure his first PGA Championship. Earlier that year, Brooks had won his second consecutive US Open. 

After breaking early-round scoring records at the 2019 PGA, Brooks cruised into Sunday with a 7-shot lead. Koepka fended off a late charge from Dustin Johnson, and his title defense launched Brooks into history as the only golfer to ever defend a US Open title and a PGA Championship. 

Bud Copeland

A self-taught stick with a hack brain, Bud grew up playing golf year-round in north Florida. Born-again New England, Bud learned what an “off-season” is. He now lives in Salem, MA with his wife, daughter, two cats, and dog, Miller. He is the sole Y chromosome in the house, believes we did land on the moon and strongly advocates for walk-up music on the first and eighteenth tees.