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1977 PGA Championship

The 1977 PGA Championship was the 59th PGA Championship, played August 11–14 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California. Lanny Wadkins, 27, won his only major championship in a sudden-death playoff over Gene Littler.[4] It was the first playoff at the PGA Championship in ten years and was the first-ever sudden-death playoff in a stroke-play major championship.[1][5] The last was 36 years earlier at the 1941 PGA Championship, when the 36-hole final match went to two extra holes.

1977 PGA Championship
Tournament information
DatesAugust 11–14, 1977
LocationPebble Beach, California
Course(s)Pebble Beach Golf Links
Organized byPGA of America
Tour(s)PGA Tour
Statistics
Par72
Length6,806 yards (6,223 m)[1][2]
Field138 players, 71 after cut
Cut151 (+7)
Prize fund$250,000[3]
Winner's share$45,000
Champion
United States Lanny Wadkins
282 (−6), playoff
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Pebble Beach is located in the United States
Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach
Location in the United States
Pebble Beach is located in California
Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach
Location in California

Prior to the start of the championship, the irons of several top players were deemed to have non-conforming groove dimensions, most notably those of Tom Watson. He had won the Masters and British Open earlier that year, and was attempting to become the first to win three majors in the same year since Ben Hogan in 1953. Others with non-conforming irons included major winners Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Gary Player, and Tom Weiskopf.[6][7] The rule limiting groove width to .035 inches (0.89 mm) had been around for decades. Watson shot an opening round of 68 (−4) with an old set of borrowed irons,[7][8][9] and finished at 286 (−2), four strokes back in a tie for sixth. He won eight majors but never a PGA Championship; his only win in the U.S. Open came here at Pebble Beach in 1982.

Four-time champion Jack Nicklaus finished one stroke out of the playoff at 283 (−5). He won the previous major at this course, the U.S. Open in 1972, and was runner-up to Watson at the next in 1982.

This was the 13th consecutive professional major won by American-born golfers. The streak began with Lee Trevino's victory at the 1974 PGA Championship and continued as the Americans swept the majors in 1975, 1976, and the previous majors in 1977. This remains the second longest major-winning streak for American golfers. The longest was in the 1940s and ended with Lew Worsham's win at the 1947 U.S. Open.

This was the second major championship at Pebble Beach, which had hosted the U.S. Open in 1972. The U.S. Open returned in 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, and 2019. It was only the second PGA Championship in California and the first as a stroke-play competition; the previous was in December 1929 in Los Angeles at Hillcrest. The 1962 event was originally awarded to Brentwood in L.A., but was moved to Philadelphia at Aronimink.[10][11]

The fairways at Pebble Beach were extremely dry, due to an extended drought, in its third year in northern California.[12]

Past champions in the fieldEdit

Made the cutEdit

Player Country Year(s) won R1 R2 R3 R4 Total To par Finish
Jack Nicklaus   United States 1963, 1971,
1973, 1975
69 71 70 73 283 −5 3
Al Geiberger   United States 1966 71 70 73 72 286 −2 T6
Don January   United States 1967 75 69 70 72 286 −2 T6
Lee Trevino   United States 1974 71 73 71 73 288 E T13
Gary Player   South Africa 1962, 1972 74 77 68 74 293 +5 T31
Dave Stockton   United States 1970, 1976 75 75 69 74 293 +5 T31
Raymond Floyd   United States 1969 74 72 73 76 295 +7 T40
Bobby Nichols   United States 1964 72 75 78 75 300 +12 T51
Sam Snead   United States 1942, 1949, 1951 80 71 71 79 301 +13 T54
Julius Boros   United States 1968 73 75 77 77 302 +14 T58
Dow Finsterwald   United States 1958 76 75 84 75 310 +22 70

Missed the cutEdit

Player Country Year won R1 R2 Total To par
Lionel Hebert   United States 1957 79 78 157 +13
Jay Hebert   United States 1960 80 79 159 +15
Jerry Barber   United States 1961 79 81 160 +16
Doug Ford   United States 1955 81 79 160 +16

Round summariesEdit

First roundEdit

Thursday, August 11, 1977

Place Player Country Score To par
1 Gene Littler   United States 67 −5
T2 Mark Hayes   United States 68 −4
Jerry McGee   United States
Tom Watson   United States
T5 George Cadle   United States 69 −3
Jack Nicklaus   United States
Lanny Wadkins   United States
T8 George Archer   United States 70 −2
Charles Coody   United States
John Lister   New Zealand
Roger Maltbie   United States
Johnny Miller   United States
Fuzzy Zoeller   United States

Second roundEdit

Friday, August 12, 1977

Place Player Country Score To par
1 Gene Littler   United States 67-69=136 −8
2 Jerry McGee   United States 68-70=138 −6
T3 Jack Nicklaus   United States 69-71=140 −4
Lanny Wadkins   United States 69-71=140
T5 Charles Coody   United States 70-71=141 −3
Al Geiberger   United States 71-70=141
Joe Inman   United States 72-69=141
Tom Watson   United States 68-73=141
T9 George Cadle   United States 69-73=142 −2
Gil Morgan   United States 74-68=142
Fuzzy Zoeller   United States 70-72=142

Third roundEdit

Saturday, August 13, 1977

Place Player Country Score To par
1 Gene Littler   United States 67-69-70=206 −10
2 Jack Nicklaus   United States 69-71-70=210 −6
3 Charles Coody   United States 70-71-70=211 −5
T4 George Cadle   United States 69-73-70=212 −4
Gil Morgan   United States 74-68-70=212
Jerry Pate   United States 73-70-69=212
Lanny Wadkins   United States 69-71-72=212
Tom Watson   United States 68-73-71=212
T9 Miller Barber   United States 77-68-69=214 −2
Billy Casper   United States 73-71-70=214
Al Geiberger   United States 71-70-73=214
Joe Inman   United States 72-69-73=214
Don January   United States 75-69-70=214
Leonard Thompson   United States 72-73-69=214

Final roundEdit

Sunday, August 14, 1977

Littler, 47, was the leader in each of the first three rounds and entered Sunday at 206 (−10), with a four-shot lead over Jack Nicklaus. One-under on the front nine, Littler staggered on the back with a five-over 41. After the turn, he made five bogeys in six holes, then rallied with pars on the three finishing holes to make the playoff with a 76 (+4).[13] Wadkins started the round six strokes back and shot a 70, which included a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to get to six-under for the championship. As the clubhouse leader, he waited for the final pairing of Nicklaus and Littler. Tied for the lead with two holes remaining, Nicklaus bogeyed the par-3 17th to miss the playoff by a stroke. He had famously birdied the same hole in the final round of the 1972 U.S. Open, which he won by three strokes.

Place Player Country Score To par Money ($)
T1 Gene Littler   United States 67-69-70-76=282 −6 Playoff
Lanny Wadkins   United States 69-71-72-70=282
3 Jack Nicklaus   United States 69-71-70-73=283 −5 15,000
4 Charles Coody   United States 70-71-70-73=284 −4 12,000
5 Jerry Pate   United States 73-70-69-73=285 −3 10,000
T6 Al Geiberger   United States 71-70-73-72=286 −2 7,300
Lou Graham   United States 71-73-71-71=286
Don January   United States 75-69-70-72=286
Jerry McGee   United States 68-70-77-71=286
Tom Watson   United States 68-73-71-74=286

Source:[13][14]

PlayoffEdit

The sudden-death playoff began on the par-4 first hole, where Wadkins missed the green, chipped from the heavy rough to 20 feet (6 m) and saved par to tie. At the second hole, both reached the green of the par-5 in two shots, narrowly missed eagle putts, and tapped in for birdies. At the third hole, both missed the green in the heavy rough. Littler's difficult chip left him 20 feet (6 m) for a par four, while Wadkins got his chip to within five feet (1.5 m). After Littler missed to the right, Wadkins rolled his in for the win.[13]

The championship had gone without a playoff since 1967. The seventh and last sudden-death playoff was in 1996; the format was changed to a three-hole aggregate, first used in 2000.

Place Player Country Score To par Money ($)
1 Lanny Wadkins   United States 4-4-4 −1 45,000
2 Gene Littler   United States 4-4-x E 25,000
  • Sudden-death playoff played on holes 1, 2, and 3.[1][4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Parascenzo, Marino (August 15, 1977). "Littler comes apart, Wadkins captures PGA". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 20.
  2. ^ "Tournament Info for: 1977 PGA Championship". PGA.com. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  3. ^ Parascenzo, Marino (August 12, 1977). "Littler leads at PGA". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 10.
  4. ^ a b "Wadkins wins PGA playoff". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. August 15, 1977. p. 1C.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Dan (August 22, 1977). "The battle of the ages". Sports Illustrated. p. 12.
  6. ^ Parascenso, Marino (August 11, 1977). "PGA bigwigs club Watson". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 15.
  7. ^ a b "Watson survives hassle". Milwaukee Journal. AP and UPI. August 12, 1977. p. 8-part 2.
  8. ^ "Watson proves himself". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. August 12, 1977. p. 1-part 2.
  9. ^ "Watson trails by one stroke". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. August 12, 1977. p. 23.
  10. ^ "PGA opens its doors to Negroes, world golfers". Florence Times. Alabama. Associated Press. November 10, 1961. p. 4, section 2.
  11. ^ "PGA group abolishes 'Caucasian'". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. November 10, 1961. p. 22.
  12. ^ "Drought leaves Pebble Beach fairways brown". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. August 10, 1977. p. 4B.
  13. ^ a b c "Wadkins wins PGA playoff". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. August 15, 1977. p. 1C.
  14. ^ "1977 PGA Championship". databasegolf.com. Retrieved June 30, 2012.

External linksEdit