If your are up to speed with your golf news then you will know that LPGA player Suzann Pettersen stormed to a victory at the Safeway Classic after starting the day nine shots behind the leader. A 7 under par 64 and a couple of slip ups from Na Yeon Choi resulted in a playoff which Pettersen won on the first hole. Such a stunning comeback got us think of other come from behind wins in golf history and here we bring you five of the best.
Jack Nicklaus – 1986 Masters
With the 1986 Masters on the horizon the golfing world had thought they had seen the last of Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear was 46 years old. He was washed up, finished, old news…or so everyone thought. Going into the final round the once untouchable Nicklaus was playing second fiddle to the new generation of champions that included the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Sandy Lyle and Tom Kite. Many of these players were ahead of Jack going into the last round and it looked as if he was there just to make up the numbers. After playing the first 8 holes in level par that very much seemed to be the case as he was trailing Seve Ballesteros by 6 shots. The suddenly The Golden Bear awoke from his slumber and rattled off three quick fire birdies in the space of 4 holes. The moment when the seemingly impossible became possible though was on the par5 15th. Nicklaus hit a towering 4 iron to 15 feet and holed out for an eagle. Yet another birdie came at the very next hole as Nicklaus almost aced the par 3 16th. Another came at the 17th and Nicklaus had completed his charge. The sheer volume of the cheers reverberating around Augusta rattled the other players and nobody could match Jack’s 9 under total which handed him his 6th green jacket.
Johnny Miller – 1973 US Open
Johnny Miller may well have cemented his place as one of the game’s greatest ever players if he hadn’t suffered from the yips for much of his career. Tee to green he was immense but like many golfers the world over he fell apart on the greens. This wasn’t the case in the final round of the 1973 US Open. Having played well over the forst two rounds Miller had positioned himself high up on the leader board. Disaster struck on round 3 when Miller lost his yardage book and was duly punished by a devilish Oakmont course. A 76 left home adrift and with a wealth of talent between him and the victory. However something clicked for Miller on the Sunday and after opening with four straight birdies he never looked back on the way to a stunning 63 and the win. 63 is still the tied lowest ever round in a major but what makes Miller’s score special is that he did it on a day when only 4 other players in the field managed to break par. The American had hit 17 greens in regulation, had lipped out twice and had a three putt from 12 feet in their as well. The 63 didn’t do the quality of the golf justice and that is saying something!
Paul Lawrie – 1999 Open Championship
Unfortunately for Paul Lawrie the 1999 Open Championship will only ever be remembered for one thing and one thing only; the image of Jean Van De Velde standing barefoot in the Barry Burn on his way to butchering the final hole where all he required for victory was a double bogey. Rather than go on about the Frenchman’s woes we are going to focus on what Lawrie did that day; set the all time record for the biggest comeback win ever on the PGA Tour. The Open was being played at Carnoustie which is widely regarded as the toughest golf course on the Open rota and that week terrible weather conditions were making scoring even more difficult. Jean Van De Velde has a comfortable 5 shot lead going into the Sunday and was a staggering ten shots ahead of Lawrie. On a day when the rest of the field was struggling Lawrie fired a superb 67 to make his way into a playoff in which he edged out Justin Leonard and the demoralised Frenchman Van De Velde. Lawrie had come from 10 shots behind and had won a tournament he had never led or co-led during 72 holes of regulation play.
Tiger Woods – 2000 AT&T at Pebble Beach
It is well documented that Tiger Woods is a strong front runner. Until the 2009 US PGA he had never falied to convert if he was leading after 54 holes in a major. As yet he has not won a major while coming from behind but his amateur days were replete with stunning comebacks in the US Amateur. He has had a few strokeplay comebacks in his professional career as well including storming back from 8 off the lead during the final round of the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic. However that can’t compare to what he did at the AT&T at Pebble Beach. Woods was 7 shots off the lead with 7 holes to play. Suddenly he burst into life and fired off three birdies and an eagle to post a score that would frighten those still out on the course. It ended up being good enough to win as Matt Gogel stuttered home and marked a 6th straight strokeplay tournament win which is a record for the PGA Tour.
David Duval – 1999 Bob Hope Classic
David Duval started the 1999 Bob Hope Classic as world number one as Tiger was in the middle of one of his swing changing phases and the golf Duval was playing may well have been too much for Tiger to handle anyway. However nothing was really going for the world number one over the first three days and although he was playing ok he found himself 7 shots off the lead going into the final round. Then Duval played the best round of golf that the world has ever seen on a course that was considered to be one of the toughest on Tour. The American shot a stunning 59 to blow the rest of the field out of the water. Unlike other scores in the same realm as Duval’s 59, this round of golf was not particularly flashy. There were no shots holed from the fairway; no monster putts holed from the next county; no lucky escapes from the trees. In fact Duval’s round was so good that he was able to shoot the second lowest score in professional golf’s history while the longest shot he holed was a ten foot birdie putt. This round was very much like Johnny Miller’s 63 in the 1973 US Open but Duval never missed a putt which in our minds makes his the best round of golf ever played.