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. 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. The last was 36 years earlier at the 1941 PGA Championship, when the 36-hole final match went to two extra holes.
|Dates||August 11–14, 1977|
|Location||Pebble Beach, California|
|Course(s)||Pebble Beach Golf Links|
|Organized by||PGA of America|
|Length||6,806 yards (6,223 m)|
|Field||138 players, 71 after cut|
|282 (−6), playoff|
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. 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, 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.
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.
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,
|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|
Thursday, August 11, 1977
|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|
Friday, August 12, 1977
|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|
Saturday, August 13, 1977
|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|
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). 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 ($)|
|T1||Gene Littler||United States||67-69-70-76=282||−6||Playoff|
|Lanny Wadkins||United States||69-71-72-70=282|
|3||Jack Nicklaus||United States||69-71-70-73=283||−5||15,000|
|4||Charles Coody||United States||70-71-70-73=284||−4||12,000|
|5||Jerry Pate||United States||73-70-69-73=285||−3||10,000|
|T6||Al Geiberger||United States||71-70-73-72=286||−2||7,300|
|Lou Graham||United States||71-73-71-71=286|
|Don January||United States||75-69-70-72=286|
|Jerry McGee||United States||68-70-77-71=286|
|Tom Watson||United States||68-73-71-74=286|
The sudden-death playoff began on the par-4 first hole, where Wadkins missed the green, chipped from the heavy rough to 20 feet (6 m) and saved par to tie. At the second hole, both reached the green of the par-5 in two shots, narrowly missed eagle putts, and tapped in for birdies. At the third hole, both missed the green in the heavy rough. Littler's difficult chip left him 20 feet (6 m) for a par four, while Wadkins got his chip to within five feet (1.5 m). After Littler missed to the right, Wadkins rolled his in for the win.
|Place||Player||Country||Score||To par||Money ($)|
|1||Lanny Wadkins||United States||4-4-4||−1||45,000|
|2||Gene Littler||United States||4-4-x||E||25,000|
- Parascenzo, Marino (August 15, 1977). "Littler comes apart, Wadkins captures PGA". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 20.
- "Tournament Info for: 1977 PGA Championship". PGA.com. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- Parascenzo, Marino (August 12, 1977). "Littler leads at PGA". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 10.
- "Wadkins wins PGA playoff". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. August 15, 1977. p. 1C.
- Jenkins, Dan (August 22, 1977). "The battle of the ages". Sports Illustrated. p. 12.
- Parascenso, Marino (August 11, 1977). "PGA bigwigs club Watson". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 15.
- "Watson survives hassle". Milwaukee Journal. AP and UPI. August 12, 1977. p. 8-part 2.
- "Watson proves himself". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. August 12, 1977. p. 1-part 2.
- "Watson trails by one stroke". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. August 12, 1977. p. 23.
- "PGA opens its doors to Negroes, world golfers". Florence Times. Alabama. Associated Press. November 10, 1961. p. 4, section 2.
- "PGA group abolishes 'Caucasian'". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. November 10, 1961. p. 22.
- "Drought leaves Pebble Beach fairways brown". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. August 10, 1977. p. 4B.
- "Wadkins wins PGA playoff". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. August 15, 1977. p. 1C.
- "1977 PGA Championship". databasegolf.com. Retrieved June 30, 2012.