The Best Moments in Valhalla History

2014 PGA Championship - Final Round
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The PGA of America has so much rich history at Valhalla Golf Club, with the club hosting its seventh big event in the last three decades when the PGA Championship rolls into Louisville next week.

Mark Brooks topped Kenny Perry in a playoff to decide the 1996 PGA Championship, and four years later, in 2000, Tiger Woods beat Bob May in an epic playoff. It was Woods’ fifth major title and third straight. Rory McIlroy topped Phil Mickelson by a shot in near darkness in 2014, which remains his last major championship title.

Two Senior PGA Championships have produced close results with Hale Irwin beating Jay Hass by a shot in 2004 and Tom Watson defeating David Eger in a playoff in 2011. The United States beat Europe decisively to win the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla with Paul Azinger as the Captain of the Americans.

With so many incredible memories at Valhalla over the years, here are the 10 best moments in the history of Championship golf at the famed club.

Russ Cochran hitting out of the bunker during the 78th PGA Championship held at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Sunday, April 11, 1996. (photograph by The PGA of America).

1996: Kentucky’s Russ Cochran shoots course record to take 54-hole lead 

Russ Cochran, from 200 miles away in Paducah, Kentucky, dazzled his home crowds with a sensational third-round 65 that set a Valhalla course record. He was in control all day, made seven birdies, including a final one from 8 feet on the par-5 18th hole. He held the 54-hole lead by two shots over Mark Brooks and Vijay Singh. Steve Elkington, Phil Mickelson and Nick Price were only three shots behind.

“You never know when a great round is going to come up,” Cochran said. “But I never would have thought I would be leading.”

Unfortunately for the left-hander, he followed the record round with a Sunday 77 and dropped into a tie for 17th place. Brooks topped another Kentuckian, Kenny Perry, on the first hole of a playoff.

1996: Mark Brooks tops Kentucky’s Kenny Perry

Home state favorite Kenny Perry took a two-shot lead into the 72nd hole over Mark Brooks but failed to get up and down on the last for par and made bogey. Nearly 30 minutes later, Brooks was coming up the 18th needing to make birdie to push the championship into a playoff. Rather than hitting balls at the practice range, Perry was watching Brooks from the 18th hole television tower. Brooks got up and down from the front greenside bunker for birdie, then in the playoff made another birdie after Perry hit both his first and second shots into the thick rough, left of the fairway.

“I’ve learned a lot of about life through golf,” an emotional Brooks said. “That’s what today was all about. Fighting through the bad and knowing something good is at the end.”

2000: Jack Nicklaus birdies the last hole of his final PGA Championship
Playing with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, 60-year-old Jack Nicklaus hit a pitching wedge to inside 3 feet on the par-5 18th hole and closed out his illustrious PGA Championship career with a birdie to shoot 1-under 71. The five-time PGA champion only missed the cut by one shot, but waved to the adoring fans as he walked off the 18th green. When Woods would shake Nicklaus’ hand after the round you could see him say, “that was awesome.” Two days later Woods won the title in a playoff over Bob May.

2000: Tiger Woods walks in birdie putt in playoff

One of the most famous putts Tiger Woods ever made and you’ve likely seen it hundreds of times in the past 24 years. Woods and Bob May were on the first of three playoff holes to decide the championship. May had just hit a magnificent chip to tap-in range to secure a par and Woods was standing over his birdie attempt from 25 feet. He took the stroke and, when the ball was 3 feet from the cup, Woods started running after it while pointing. He knew it was going in. It was the only birdie either man would make during the playoff.

“This is one of the greatest duels I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve had a few,” Woods said afterward.

2000: Bob May makes birdie to get into playoff with Tiger Woods

Bob May had some work to do just to get into the historic playoff with Tiger Woods. He hit his approach on the par-5 18th hole 16 feet past the hole and knew that he needed to make it, although Woods was still facing a birdie putt of 6 feet himself. With thousands surrounding the green, May calmly hit the putt, looking for a moment like the ball was going to miss right before it dove back left and into the hole. Woods, of course, then made his birdie putt, threw two trademark fist pumps and went on to win his third straight major title and second PGA Championship.

2004: Hale Irwin birdies the last to win fourth Senior PGA

A weather-plagued week saw the Senior PGA Championship delayed five different times. But on the final green, Hale Irwin two-putted from 40 feet for birdie to capture his 40th PGA Tour Champions victory, his fourth Senior PGA Championship title and his seventh senior Major. Co-leader Jay Haas, playing in his first senior event, missed a 10-footer for birdie on the 18th green while Irwin watched from back in the fairway. Irwin won by one shot.

“I’m proud, I’m relieved and I’m glad it’s over,” Irwin said. “It’s been an awkward week for everyone.”

2008: Boo Weekley does his best Happy Gilmore impression
The Americans were up 9-7 over the Europeans heading into Sunday singles of the Ryder Cup and Anthony Kim got off to a hot start in the first match against Sergio Garcia. The locals, however, were particularly interested in the middle of the lineup where Kentucky natives Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes were in spots five and seven. But in between them was Boo Weekley, the fun-loving character from the Florida Panhandle. He was matched against Oliver Wilson. Weekley smoked his drive off the first tee, then, just like Adam Sandler in “Happy Gilmore,” proceeded to ride his driver like a horse, galloping off the tee box. It was quite the scene at the time and has remained in Ryder Cup lore. Weekley won his match 4 and 2.

“I felt like I just had to do it to loosen it up a little bit,” he said.

72nd Senior PGA Championship

2011: Tom Watson wins second Senior PGA in playoff

Tom Watson and David Eger found themselves in a playoff to determine the championship, but only after both missed short birdie putts on the 72nd hole. Eger pulled a 6-footer and Watson, then 61, pushed his from 4 feet. So they went back to the 18th tee for sudden-death. Watson’s second shot on the par-5 found the front greenside bunker and Eger hit his third shot, a pitching wedge, to 10 feet. Eger missed his putt, Watson got up and down from the bunker – making the putt from only 3 feet – and he captured his second Senior PGA Championship. At the time he was the oldest player to win a major since the PGA Tour Champions was created back in 1980.

“These young kids coming out there hitting the ball so much farther than I do and, you know, their nerves are pretty much still intact,” Watson said. “They don’t have the aches and pains and I’ve been lucky with that, but I’m starting to get a few aches and pains and I feel very fortunate to have won. Very, very fortunate.”

2014: Rory McIlroy’s dramatic win in the dark

Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson were in the penultimate group teeing off on the 18th hole with the final pairing, Rory McIlroy and Bernd Weisberger, waiting behind. Mickelson and Fowler trailed McIlroy by two shots. Moments after Fowler and Mickelson walked off the tee box they were alerted that McIlroy and Weisberger were going to hit their tee shots because it was getting dark and there was threatening weather. Mickelson and Fowler then hit their second shots first and walked toward the green and were told that McIlroy and Weisberger were going to hit up again. Mickelson nearly holed his chip for eagle, which would’ve forced McIlroy to make birdie to win. It was a wild, memorable scene and remains the last major championship that McIlroy has won.

“I suggested we play up as a four,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t know if they wanted to do that or not. You know, to get this thing finished and get this thing over and done with, and the guys let us play up with our drives and they didn’t need to do that. They could’ve just left us on the tee box there and just play normally, but they showed a lot of class and a lot of sportsmanship by doing that.”