Raymond Floyd Delivered a First-Round Knockout in the 1982 PGA Championship
As an old locker room saying went, “When Raymond starts to strut, you can forget it, baby.”
Raymond Floyd began the 64th PGA Championship with a statement as he blistered Southern Hills with nine consecutive threes, from the 6th through the 14th, and finished with a competitive course-record seven-under-par 63. He also tied the lowest score ever shot in a major championship at that time.
Floyd was always known on Tour as a great frontrunner. Combining his nerves of steel from growing up playing money matches, with his ability to play focused golf, Floyd was almost impossible to track down when he had the lead in a tournament.
Floyd joined Tommy Bolt and Hubert Green as first-round leaders who went on to win at Southern Hills. But it wasn’t wrapped up on Thursday. Bob Gilder and Greg Norman both shot 66’s, while Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus and 22-year-old Fred Couples, who birdied the final six holes for a back-nine 29, had 67’s. Tom Watson, who recently won both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, closed with a 68, but didn’t threaten thereafter. The usual August heat, along with rain showers, contributed to the lower scoring.
“With no qualifications, that’s absolutely the best round of golf I’ve ever shot,” Floyd said after the opening-round 63. “And it couldn’t have come at a better time, in a major championship, on a course as tough as Southern Hills.”
After posting a 68 in round three, Floyd had a three-day total of 200, a PGA Championship record. He held a five-shot advantage over Greg Norman and Jay Hass. The major topic among the press and players was whether the 72-hole record of 271 would also be broken.
Even before a champion was crowned, however, there was one participant in the 1982 PGA Championship that received a standing ovation from Southern Hills members just for carrying a golf bag. One of their own, Joey Dills, was a former Brigham Young standout who also played on the PGA Tour. Six weeks earlier, he received a call from another Brigham Young standout, Johnny Miller who asked Joey to be his caddie for the Championship. Many of the members were giving Joey a hard time beforehand, doubting that he could lug a tour bag over Southern Hills for four days. Joey proved them wrong and got the last laugh.
“They were riding me at first and taking bets I wouldn’t make it,” Dills said. “But I’m in better shape than they thought. And they would love to do what I am doing.”
It wasn’t exactly a cake walk on Sunday, but Floyd fought off a brief challenge from Couples and Lanny Wadkins to win his second PGA Championship. He missed setting the 72-hole scoring record by one shot when he double bogeyed the final hole, yet still prevailed by three shots.
After struggling through the first 11 holes, the key to Floyd holding things together and sealing the deal may have come from his wife, Maria. Long known as both a money player and playboy, Raymond’s life and golf game took a big turn when he met and married Maria Fraietta in 1973.
He also learned to take her advice.
So, after leaving the 11th green, Maria looked at her husband and said, “Quit messing around and win this thing.” Raymond immediately birdied the 12th and then the 16th and it was smooth sailing to the finish. He finished with a 72-hole score of 272. Lanny Wadkins was second at 275.
“When someone asks me the highlight of my career, I can say a 63 that I shot at Southern Hills,” Floyd said during his celebration. “I think it will certainly go down as the greatest round of golf that I have ever played.”