TULSA, Okla. (AP) – About a month before Dave Stockton won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, his father gave him the self-help classic “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, and he went through page by page highlighting various passages.
“It wasn’t a fun read,” Stockton said. “It was like reading sandpaper.”
He came away with two concrete ideas, which applied perfectly to golf. The first was simple: Be aggressive. The second was something athletes have stood for for decades: visualize that you have already won.
“So rather than coming here and hoping I played well, hoping I made the cut, all these different things, I walked the first tee on Monday morning around 7:00 a.m. – because I finished at 10:45 a.m. – and I visualized that I had already won the tournament,” Stockton said. “My mindset was that I had already won it and I was going to go out and enjoy it.”
He made it look so easy. Stockton tied for the lead after the second round, led Raymond Floyd by three after the third, and earned a two-stroke victory over Arnold Palmer and Bob Murphy in the 1970 championship.
In doing so, Stockton helped shape what has become a recurring theme in Southern Hills: the venerable Perry Maxwell development near downtown Tulsa. has crowned some of the game’s greatest players at more major championships than any other US site, and for the most part, they’ve been a terrible bore.
In four previous PGA Championships and three US Opens, Stockton and Tiger Woods are the only ones not to have at least a share of the lead after the first lap. And none were out of their heads heading into the final round.
Oklahoma native Tommy Bolt led after every round at the 1958 US Open, turning a three-stroke lead over Gene Littler after the third into a four-stroke victory over Gary Player in the end. It ended up being Bolt’s only major, although he also played two Ryder Cups and, like everyone but Stockton who won at Southern Hills, ended up in the Hall of Fame.
Hubert Green also had at least a share of the lead in every round of the 1977 US Open, fending off Lou Graham with a shot on Sunday. But this tournament is best known for what few people knew at the time: there had been a phone call threatening to assassinate Green if he played the 15th hole. He bravely did it anyway on his way to his first major title.
Nearing his 40th birthday, Floyd also went wire-to-wire to the 1982 PGA Championship, finishing three behind former champion Lanny Wadkins. He opened with a 63 and was never really threatened the rest of the week.
Nick Price might have had the easier path with the pitch in 1994.
Sure, he was tied for the first lap lead with Colin Montgomerie, but he was five strokes ahead of everyone after the second lap. Price then finished 11 under for a six-stroke lead over Corey Pavin, becoming the first player to win the British Open and the PGA in the same year in seven decades.
When the Majors returned to Southern Hills in 2001, Retief Goosen needed a Monday playoff with Mark Brooks to win the first of his two US Opens. Thrilling in theory, but nobody seemed to want to win on Sunday. Goosen ran a 10-foot pass for a birdie on the 72nd hole, then missed a 2-foot return, leaving him tied with Brooks, who bogeyed his last hole. And both were one shot away from Stewart Cink, who missed his own 2-footer to join the playoffs.
There were two dominant stories the last time the PGA Championship was in Southern Hills.
The first was the heat, which approached or exceeded triple digits every four days. The other was Woods, who took control with a second-round 63. He led up to five in the third and fourth rounds before finishing ahead of a largely forgettable cast of characters that included Woody Austin, Aaron Oberholser and John Senden.
“I remember playing behind (John Daly) the first day, which was great,” Woods recalled this week. “It was, what, 109 I think that first day?” And I asked JD how much water he drank there. He said, ‘No, I drank 13 Diet Cokes.’ »
Memorable stuff, indeed.
There’s reason to believe Southern Hills will finally produce a classic this week, however. The field has 95 of the top 100 in the world even after the withdrawal of Bryson DeChambeau on Wednesday evening. The course itself has undergone a complete restoration, restoring it to its former glory. The forecast looks bright and pleasant for most of the week.
“It’s tough. It’s going to be really tough,” said Xander Schauffele, the Olympic gold medalist, who had two top-10 finishes in the majors last year. “I think most PGA Championships, people feel like you can somehow shoot lower than most majors, but I think this year is going to be a different story.
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