The Biggest Surprise Wins in the History of Golf

Every sport has its moments where athletes show something unique, their ability to rise above the competition and take it all. Some athletes do that in a team sport, fueled by their teammates and a desire to win. In individual sports, you can only be fueled by your own desire, and that of the fans, if you have any. Some people thrive off negative feedback, others off positive, either way, a win is a win.

In golf, like every other sport, there are plenty of surprise victories. Here are the biggest surprise wins in golf, in no particular order.

Y.E. Yang Versus Tiger Woods

When you think of Tiger Woods, you think of this unstoppable machine who wins Majors every year. While the latter would be untrue, he still is one of the world’s best golfers and in 2009, he lead with two strokes going into the final round of a PGA Championship at Hazeltine. His opponent, Y.E. Yang, had to beat Tiger Woods, and the odds. The odds and statistics were against him, because Woods had never lost a Major while having a lead in the final round, until Yang beat him. Yes, Yang found what every athlete finds in those moments of triumph and won his first and only major victory.

Rich Beem Versus Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods again. Yes, he also loses to people, especially when they channel everything they can in order to win. Rich Beem had his moment of glory in 2002, when he was facing off at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine (again), against Woods. He managed to win in the final round, by a single shot. Beem himself is still amazed at the control he showed over his emotions during those intense moments. To think that not even a decade prior to that event, he used to sell audio equipment for an incredibly lower salary.

Shaun Michael Versus the Odds

Some people battle Tiger Woods, other battle everybody else on the tournament. In 2003, every major went to a different winner, a surprise winner. Shaun Michael had never won anything in his 163 PGA Tour starts. That is a lot of tournaments and not a single victory, until 2003, that is.

With a one-stroke lead, he managed to hit a birdie on the 18th hole, and took home a very, very large sum of money, just over 1 million dollars. It was his first and only major victory on the tour, the PGA Championship. Some people channel greatness only once.

John Daly – A Surprise if There Was Ever One

In 1993, John Daly was not the first, but ninth alternate for the PGA Championship. He somehow got to the first position, due to various reasons. He drove to Indiana, where the championship was held, in hopes of getting to play. He actually got into the tournament and not only that, but managed to win.

The tournament was almost a breeze for Daly, who played like a man possessed. In the interviews following that victory, he said: “After four days, I didn’t think. I just hit the ball.” This is one of those stories where an unlikely competitor comes and outshines everyone.

These are some of golf’s greatest surprise victories. Oh, there are plenty more, but these are definitely the most interesting ones.