PITTSFORD, N.Y. — The PGA Championship can't be accused of being only in a New York state of mind.
At least not over the long haul.
True, the inaugural PGA Championship was held at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y. And yes, eight of the first 22 championships were held in the Empire State. But the PGA of America moves its major around the country. It has been held in 26 states, compared with 17 states for the U.S. Open. And while the U.S. Open has gone to New York 18 times, Oak Hill marks the 12th time the PGA Championship is in the Empire State.
Jim Barnes won at Siwanoy, 1 up over Jock Hutchison in 1916. Barnes often gets left out of conversation on the back-to-back winners of this major. He also won in 1919, after a two-year absence brought on by World War I.
Even more impressive? The PGA Championship has been held at 10 golf courses in New York, compared with eight New York courses for the U.S. Open. Oak Hill is the only New York course to hold the PGA more than once. This will be the third time.
The tough part is figuring out the best five PGA Championships played in New York. Here's one offering:
5. JACK IS BACK
Jack Nicklaus never really went anywhere during his peak years. In his first 20 years as a professional, his longest drought was 12 majors without winning — from the 1967 U.S. Open until the 1970 British Open, during which time his father died.
Even so, he turned 40 in 1980. Tom Watson was the top player. Seve Ballesteros captured his second major at age 23 when he won the Masters, leading by 10 shots on the back nine until settling for a four-shot win.
Nicklaus picked up his 16th career major by winning the U.S. Open at Baltusrol. But it was his 1980 PGA Championship win at Oak Hill that summer that affirmed his place in the game. He became only the second player, behind Ben Hogan in 1953, to win two majors in his 40s. Mark O'Meara would join them in 1998.
Nicklaus shot 66 in the third round to take a three-shot lead, and he wound up winning by seven. The margin of victory remained a record for 33 years, until Rory McIlroy won by eight last year at Kiawah Island. Nicklaus tied Walter Hagen with his fifth Wanamaker Trophy.
4. THE SILVER SCOT
Tommy Armour was born in Scotland and took up U.S. citizenship after World War I. He picked up his first major in 1927 at Oakmont when he won the U.S. Open.
But the odds were against him in the 1930 PGA Championship at Fresh Meadow Country Club, even though two-time champion Jim Barnes and five-time winner Walter Hagen failed qualify for match play. Armour faced Gene Sarazen, who not only was a three-time major champion, but the head professional at Fresh Meadow.
Neither player led by more than two holes during the 36-hole match. They were all square with nine holes to play, and remained tied playing the 18th. Both hit their second shots into a greenside bunker. Armour blasted out to 12 feet, and Sarazen was just inside him.
Armour holed the putt for a birdie, forcing Sarazen to match him. It would have been the first PGA Championship final to go extra holes. But it wasn't. Sarazen missed the putt, giving the Silver Scot a 1-up win and his second major. Sarazen atoned for the loss by winning a U.S. Open at Fresh Meadow two years later.