1960-1969 PGA Championships
In 1960, there were only 13 sub-par rounds in the entire Championship at the rebuilt Firestone Country Club. Jay Hebert was able to sneak in with a final-round 70 for a one-stroke victory, marking the first time that American brothers had scored victories in the same major championship. Club professional Jim Ferrier finished one stroke behind, making him the highest finisher of any club professional in stroke-play history.
Jerry Barber, then 45, mounted a comeback to win the 1961 PGA Championship. Four strokes behind Don January with three holes to play, Barber sank putts of 20 feet for a birdie at 16; a 40-footer for par at 17; and a 60-foot birdie at the 18th hole to tie January. In an 18-hole playoff the next day, Barber fell behind by two strokes on two different occasions, but came home with a 67 for a one-stroke victory.
In 1962, South African Gary Player became the fifth foreign-born player to win the PGA Championship, with a 278, edging Bob Goalby by one stroke at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa. Jack Nicklaus won his first of five titles in 1963, at the Dallas Athletic Club, overcoming 100-degree heat and Bruce Crampton, who had a three-stroke lead going into the final round. Crampton faded to a final-round 74 and Nicklaus charged to victory with a 68.
In 1964, Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer took a back seat to Bobby Nichols, who opened with a 64 and became the first wire-to-wire winner in the Championship’s medal-play history. Nichols needed only 119 putts in 72 holes for a 271 that remained a Championship record until 1994.
Palmer also set a record with rounds of 68-68-69-69, making him the first player to post four rounds in the 60s in a major championship. This seemed to set a disappointing pattern for Palmer in the Championship. Just like Snead’s U.S. Open “jinx,” Palmer is considered by most golf historians as one of the best players never to have won a PGA Championship. Along with his runner-up finish in 1964, he finished second in 1968 and 1970. Palmer competed in his 37th consecutive and final PGA Championship in 1994 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.
In 1968, Julius Boros, then 48, survived sweltering Texas heat and a last-hole charge by Palmer to become the oldest Champion, at Pecan Valley Country Club in San Antonio.