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Biggest comeback wins in golf major history

  • Biggest comeback wins in golf major history

    Golf is much more than a hobby, especially for those who earn a living at it. Golf has transformed into a huge business where professionals work tirelessly to improve their skills hoping to earn championship titles and the millions in prize money that accompanies winning a tournament. But in golf, even the minutest of movements can affect a score, for the better or worse. One bad putt coupled with an amazing 40-footer from a competitor can be enough to lose a competition.

    That's why any golfer who walks on the green needs to be in the right mindset to win. As history has shown, a bad mindset could cost a competitor dearly. Or, if a golfer has too cocky a mindset, thinking they have it in the bag before the 18th hole, a single off-target swing could end their championship dreams.

    Because of these circumstances and others, since the 1970s, there have been some unbelievable comebacks to win PGA tour events. Using data pulled from the PGA, Stacker has put together a list of the biggest comeback wins in golf history. These comebacks are from every major event from 1970 through 2019 PGA Championship. The golfers were ranked by the biggest deficit after the third round, and if there were any ties, then preference was given to the most recent tournament.

    Keep reading to see if your favorite golfer made this list and had a historic comeback win.

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  • #25. Masters 1986

    - Winner: Jack Nicklaus ($144,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Greg Norman

    At the 1986 Masters, Jack Nicklaus was behind leader Greg Norman as they entered the final round. After Nicklaus putted for eight pars, he needed to make an aggressive move to take the lead. That's when Nicklaus shot 6-under on the back nine to win by one stroke.

  • #24. PGA Championship 1986

    - Winner: Bob Tway ($140,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Greg Norman

    Many believed that Greg Norman would win the 1986 PGA Championship when he was in the lead going into the final round. But with heavy rains that made them stop and postpone the final round, Bob Tway received the reprieve he needed to get back into the right mindset. When play resumed, Norman made a few mistakes and Tway caught fire with eight birdies to close the gap and win.

  • #23. U.S. Open 1990

    - Winner: Hale Irwin ($220,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leaders after 3rd round: Mike Donald, Billy Ray Brown

    During the 1990 U.S. Open, Mike Donald and Billy Ray Brown sat atop the leaderboard after the 3rd round, but seemingly out of nowhere, Hale Irwin hit a string of amazing putts that tied him with the leaders. Irwin and Donald went to an 18-hole playoff and when they were still tied after that round, Irwin birdied the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to win.

  • #22. The Open 1995

    - Winner: John Daly ($199,375 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Michael Campbell

    The 1995 British Open was John Daly's last major championship. Trailing Michael Campbell after the 3rd round, Daly came back from a four-stroke deficit to force a four-hole playoff and stave off Costantino Rocca.

  • #21. U.S. Open 2005

    - Winner: Michael Campbell ($1,170,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Retief Goosen

    Retief Goosen took a three-shot lead over the field at the end of the 3rd round into the final day of the 2005 U.S. Open. But Michael Campbell was able to erase a four-shot deficit, playing steady golf while the rest of the leaderboard imploded with bogeys galore.

  • #20. U.S. Open 2007

    - Winner: Angel Cabrera ($1,260,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Aaron Baddeley

    Angel Cabrera not only made history with a comeback after the 3rd round, he also became the first Argentinian to win the U.S. Open. Both Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods could have forced a playoff on the final hole, but missed birdie attempts, giving Cabrera the victory.

  • #19. PGA Championship 2010

    - Winner: Martin Kaymer ($1,350,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Nick Watney

    Martin Kaymer won his first major title in the 2010 PGA Championship. Nick Watney, the 3rd-round leader, infamously hit a ball into the water on the seventh hole, that led to a triple bogey and his downfall. Kaymer then withstood Bubba Watson's charge in a three-hole playoff.

  • #18. Masters 2011

    - Winner: Charl Schwartzel ($1,440,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Rory McIlroy

    Rory McIlroy was the leader going into the final round of the 2011 Masters. But Charl Schwartzel started the final day with a birdie, then an eagle two holes later, propelling him toward the top of the leaderboard. On the final four holes, he pushed ahead of the field with four birdies.

  • #17. U.S. Open 2012

    - Winner: Webb Simpson ($1,440,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leaders after 3rd round: Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk

    Webb Simpson won his first career major title by one shot in the 2012 U.S. Open. Though Simpson started out behind, he gained the inspiration he needed by watching a video from his son, James, and was able to top Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk over the final holes.

  • #16. U.S. Open 2016

    - Winner: Dustin Johnson ($1,800,000 prize)
    - Strokes back after 3rd round: 4
    - Leader after 3rd round: Shane Lowry

    Overcoming heavy rains and a controversial penalty stroke on the fifth hole, Dustin Johnson used those obstacles as motivation to come back and win the 2012 U.S. Open. So determined was Johnson that he stormed ahead of the field and topped the next-closest competitors by three shots.

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