1977 PGA Championship Winner and Scores

The 1977 PGA Championship was the 59th time the tournament was played, and was the site of the first-ever sudden-death playoff in one of the four professional majors.

Winner: Lanny Wadkins, 282

Where it was played: Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California

Tournament dates: August 11-14, 1977

Leader after first round: Gene Littler, 67

Leader after second round: Gene Littler, 136

Leader after third round: Gene Littler, 206

What Happened in the 1977 PGA Championship

The 1977 PGA Championship has the distinction of being the first men's professional major decided in a sudden-death playoff. Eighteen-hole, next-day playoffs were the norm in majors until the PGA of America decided to institute the sudden-death format for its championship.

And that makes Lanny Wadkins the first golfer ever to win a major in a sudden-death playoff. He beat Gene Littler by making a par on the third extra hole. Years later, Wadkins said that neither he nor Littler realized at the end of the fourth round that the playoff format had changed: Both players were surprised when they were told to get ready for sudden-death holes.

Littler, 47 years old, opened the tournament at Pebble Beach with a 67, taking the lead. He held the lead after the second and third rounds, too. At the start of the final round, Littler led Wadkins by six strokes; Jack Nicklaus was four behind Littler.

Wadkins made a pair of eagles on the front nine of the final round, but Littler still led by five at the turn. However, Littler stumbled badly on the back nine, making bogey on five of the first six holes.

That allowed Nicklaus to tie for the lead by the 15th hole. But the Bear made an uncharacteristic late mistake on Sunday in a major, with a bogey on the par-3 No. 17. Then he missed a 15-foot putt on the final green that would have gotten him into the playoff.

Wadkins, meanwhile, birdied his last hole — his only birdie of the final round. Littler carded a final-round 76 to Wadkins' 70 (Nicklaus shot 73).

So into the first-ever sudden death playoff at major they went. Littler and Wadkins matched 4s on the first hole, and again on the second. But on the third extra hole, after Littler flubbed a chip shot out of thick, greenside rough, Wadkins sank a 6-foot par putt for the victory.

The tournament week started with the grooves in the irons of multiple players being rules non-conforming, including those of major championship winners Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Gary Player, Tom Weiskopf and Tom Watson. Watson had already won the first two majors (Masters, U.S. Open) of 1977. Using a borrowed set of clubs, Watson finished tied for sixth. The PGA Championship was the only one of the majors Watson never won.

Jim Ferrier, winner of the 1947 PGA Championship, withdrew following a first-round 84. It was his final appearance in a major championship. Jay Hebert, 1960 PGA Championship winner, also made his final start in a major. He missed the cut. Dow Finsterwald, 1958 PGA Championship winner, made the cut for the final time in a major, placing 70th. Two other major winners — Charles Coody (1971 Masters) and Al Geiberger (1966 PGA Championship) — recorded their final Top 10 finishes in majors, Coody fourth and Geiberger tied for sixth.

1977 PGA Championship Final Scores

Lanny Wadkins 69-71-72-70—282
Gene Littler 67-69-70-76—282
Jack Nicklaus 69-71-70-73—283
Charles Coody 70-71-70-73—284
Jerry Pate 73-70-69-73—285
Al Geiberger 71-70-73-72—286
Lou Graham 71-73-71-71—286
Tom Watson 68-73-71-74—286
Don January 75-69-70-72—286
Jerry McGee 68-70-77-71—286
Joe Inman 72-69-73-73—287
Johnny Miller 70-74-73-70—287
Lee Trevino 71-73-71-73—288
Tom Kite 73-73-70-72—288
Bruce Lietzke 74-70-74-71—289
Leonard Thompson 72-73-69-75—289
George Cadle 69-73-70-77—289
Gil Morgan 74-68-70-77—289
Arnold Palmer 72-73-73-73—291
Mark Hayes 68-75-74-74—291
George Archer 70-73-76-72—291
George Burns 71-76-70-74—291
John Schroeder 73-76-68-74—291
J.C. Snead 76-71-72-72—291
Grier Jones 72-74-72-74—292
Jim Simons 74-74-69-75—292
Billy Kratzert 71-76-75-70—292
Bob Murphy 72-72-72-76—292
Lyn Lott 76-75-67-74—292
Miller Barber 77-68-69-78—292
Lon Hinkle 72-72-74-75—293
Dave Stockton 75-75-69-74—293
Gary Player 74-77-68-74—293
Roger Maltbie 70-79-70-74—293
Billy Casper 73-71-70-79—293
John Schlee 73-73-73-75—294
Ed Sneed 74-73-72-75—294
Danny Edwards 76-74-67-77—294
Rik Massengale 77-73-70-74—294
Raymond Floyd 74-72-73-76—295
Mike McCullough 77-69-72-77—295
Butch Baird 75-74-73-74—296
Bud Allin 77-72-75-72—296
Hale Irwin 74-75-73-75—297
Steve Melnyk 71-75-74-77—297
Mike Morley 71-74-80-72—297
Bob E. Smith 76-70-77-75—298
Mac McLendon 75-73-76-75—299
Wally Armstrong 73-74-77-75—299
Dave Hill 73-77-74-75—299
Kermit Zarley 76-75-75-74—300
Bobby Nichols 72-75-78-75—300
Bruce Devlin 75-73-74-78—300
Bob Duden 74-76-79-72—301
Larry Nelson 77-69-79-76—301
Fuzzy Zoeller 70-72-79-80—301
Sam Snead 80-71-71-79—301
Julius Boros 73-75-77-77—302
Graham Marsh 74-74-77-77—302
Tom Weiskopf 77-72-74-79—302
Bob Gilder 76-74-68-84—302
Hubert Green 74-77-76-76—303
Bob Payne 73-76-75-79—303
John Lister 70-75-80-78—303
Rusty Guernsey 78-72-77-80—307
Jim Ferriell 78-71-79-80—308
Tom Jenkins 78-73-77-80—308
Phil Ferranti 75-73-79-81—308
Bob Benson 74-75-75-85—309
Dow Finsterwald 76-75-84-75—310
Larry Rinker 77-74-79-85—315

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