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Friday, 19 March 2010
Open champion Paul Lawrie will make his first appearance in a major championship in the United States this week as one of 30 European Tour players competing in the 81st US PGA Championship at Medinah.

Lawrie, who won at Carnoustie after a dramatic four hole play-off with Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard, renews his rivalry with both those players at the famous course near Chicago, Illinois.

The European Tour has already claimed two of the three majors contested in 1999 – José Maria Olazábal capturing his second Masters Green Jacket at Augusta National in April, then Lawrie becoming the first Scot since Sandy Lyle to hold aloft the Claret Jug.

American Payne Stewart, who won the US Open for a second time at Pinehurst No.2 in June, is the other major champion of 1999 to enter the final major of the season.

Fijian Vijay Singh, who was successful at Sahalee twelve months ago, defends his title while the European challenge is headed by the top dozen players on the Volvo Order of Merit.

Colin Montgomerie, one stroke behind Singh at halfway last year before eventually finishing tied 44th, goes into the event as current European No.1 and he is joined by Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen, Lawrie, Darren Clarke, Angel Cabrera, Jarmo Sandelin, Van de Velde, Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Jesper Parnevik and Mark James.

Three more players from the original entry, Peter O’Malley of Australia, and Sven Struver and Alex Cejka of Germany, have also been invited to strengthen the European challenge still further.

Since its inception in 1916, the PGA Championship has evolved into the one of the world's premier golf events, with the world’s leading stars and a selection of American PGA Club Professionals competing for the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy.

Department store magnate Wanamaker had an idea. He invited prominent golfers and other leading industry representatives including Winged Foot architect A.W. Tillinghast to a luncheon at the Taplow Club in New York City.

On Jan. 16, 1916, a group of 35 individuals, including legendary Walter Hagen, convened, a meeting which resulted in the formation of the PGA of America.
During the meeting, Wanamaker hinted at the need for the new organisation for an annual all-professional tournament, and offered to put up $2,500 as part of the prize funds. The first PGA Championship was played at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y. and was won by British-born professional Jim Barnes.

In the Roaring Twenties, winners included Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen. Hagen went on to win 5 PGA Championships. In 1940, Byron Nelson won with a 1-up victory over Sam Snead.

With the outbreak of World War II, the match-play field was reduced to 32 players. Snead called the '42 PGA Championship, his first of seven major triumphs, his biggest thrill in golf - he finished the match by holing a 60-foot chip shot for birdie on the 35th hole. Ben Hogan won in 1946; he qualified seven times for the match-play portion and won 81 percent of his matches (22 of 27).

In 1957, the Championship was going to be changed to a combination of medal play and match play, but was not carried out. Television was a major factor that caused the PGA to decide to go with stroke play format.

In the Sixties, South African Gary Player won in '62, Jack Nicklaus won first of five in '63, and Arnold Palmer set a record with rounds of 68-68-69-69 but never ended up with a Championship victory (like Sam Snead's US Open "jinx", golf historians consider Palmer as one of the best players never to have won a PGA Championship).

With his wire-to-wire victory in February 1971 at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Nicklaus became the first professional to win the modern Grand Slam of golf for the second time.

Nicklaus would win four PGA Championships in 13 years, including runner-up twice and placed nine times in the top four. In '80, the Golden Bear tied Walter Hagen for most PGA Championships, winning his fifth crown by a record margin of seven strokes.

The PGA Championship marked its first visit to Valhalla Golf Club in 1996 with its 14th overall play-off. Mark Brooks birdied the 18th hole nearly 20 minutes apart, including a four foot birdie putt in sudden death, to defeat Kentucky-born Kenny Perry.

Some US PGA facts and figures:

Best 72-hole score

267 (17 under par) by Steve Elkington
(68-67-68-64) in 1995
267 (17 under par) by Colin Montgomerie
(68-67-67-65) in 1995
269 (11 under par) by Davis Love III
(66-71-66-66) in 1997
269 (11 under par) by Nick Price
(67-65-70-67) in 1994
271 (9 under par) by Bobby Nichols
(64-71-69-67) in 1964
271 (9 under par) by Vijay Singh
272 (8 under par) by Ben Crenshaw
(69-67-69-67) in 1979
272 (8 under par) by David Graham
(69-68-70-65) in 1979
272 (12 under par) by Jeff Sluman
(69-70-68-65) in 1988
273 (15 under par) by Lee Trevino
(69-68-67-69) in 1984
273 (7 under par) by Larry Nelson
(70-66-66-71) in 1964

Largest winning margin
Seven strokes by Jack Nicklaus in 1980

Lowest final round score by winner
64 (7 under par) by Steve Elkington in 1995
65 (6 under par) by Jeff Sluman in 1988
65 (5 under par) by David Graham in 1979
66 (4 under par) by Davis Love III in 1997
66 (4 under par) by Bob Rosburg in 1959
66 (7 under par) by John Mahaffey in 1978

Multiple PGA winners
James Barnes (1916, '19)
Leo Diegel (1928, '29)
Raymond Floyd (1969, '82)
Walter Hagen (1921, '24, '25, '26, '27)
Ben Hogan (1946, '48)
Byron Nelson (1940, '45)
Larry Nelson (1981, '87)
Jack Nicklaus (1963, '71, '73, '75, '80)
Gary Player (1962, '72)
Nick Price (1992, '94)
Paul Runyan (1934, '38)
Gene Sarazen (1922, '23, '33)
Denny Shute (1936, '37)
Sam Snead (1942, '49, '51)
Dave Stockton (1970, '76)
Lee Trevino (1974, '84)



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