|Dates||August 2–5, 1979|
|Location||Bloomfield Township, Michigan|
|Course(s)||Oakland Hills Country Club,|
|Organized by||PGA of America|
|Length||7,054 yards (6,450 m)|
|Field||150 players, 74 after cut|
|272 (−8), playoff|
The 1979 PGA Championship was the 61st PGA Championship, played August 2–5 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, a suburb northwest of Detroit. After a double-bogey on the 72nd hole, David Graham won the first of his two major titles on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff with Ben Crenshaw. Through 17 holes in the final round, Graham was seven-under, with seven birdies and ten pars. Of the 21 holes he played Sunday, nine were birdies.
After 54 holes, Rex Caldwell was the leader at 203 (−7), Crenshaw was two strokes back and Graham four behind at 207 (−3), all in search of their first major title. It was the fifth runner-up finish for Crenshaw in a major, and second consecutive. He later won two majors, both at the Masters, in 1984 and 1995; Graham won his second at the U.S. Open in 1981 at Merion.
Three-time champion Sam Snead set the record for the oldest player to make the cut in a major. He was 67 years, 2 months, and 7 days of age at the cut and finished 42nd at 288 (+8). He won in 1942, 1949, and 1951, all in match play.
It was the sixth major championship held on the South Course, which previously hosted the PGA Championship in 1972 and the U.S. Open in 1924, 1937, 1951, and 1961. It later hosted the U.S. Open in 1985 and 1996, the PGA Championship in 2008, and the Ryder Cup in 2004.
Jerry Pate and Tom Watson, runners-up in the previous year's playoff, were tied with Graham in third place after 54 holes. Pate's 71 tied for fifth but Watson's 74 dropped him into a tie for twelfth at 281. Watson had won three of his eight majors at this time, but never completed the career grand slam, missing the PGA Championship leg. Defending champion John Mahaffey tied for 51st.
This was the final major championship of the 1970s. Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf played in the event assuring that they played in every major championship in the 1970s. They were the first players to play in every major championship for an entire decade.
Past champions in the field
Made the cut
|Player||Country||Year(s) won||R1||R2||R3||R4||Total||To par||Finish|
|Don January||United States||1967||69||70||71||69||279||−1||T7|
|Gary Player||South Africa||1962, 1972||73||70||70||71||284||+4||T23|
|Dave Stockton||United States||1970, 1976||70||75||72||70||287||+7||T35|
|Lee Trevino||United States||1974||70||73||72||72||287||+7||T35|
|Sam Snead||United States||1942, 1949, 1951||73||71||71||73||288||+8||T42|
|John Mahaffey||United States||1978||72||74||71||73||290||+10||T51|
|Raymond Floyd||United States||1969||74||70||77||72||293||+13||T62|
|Al Geiberger||United States||1966||76||70||73||75||294||+14||T65|
|Jack Nicklaus||United States||1963, 1971,
|Lanny Wadkins||United States||1977||71||75||73||76||295||+13||70|
Missed the cut
|Player||Country||Year won||R1||R2||Total||To par|
|Julius Boros||United States||1968||77||73||150||+10|
|Dow Finsterwald||United States||1958||77||74||151||+11|
|Bobby Nichols||United States||1964||74||82||156||+16|
|Jerry Barber||United States||1961||83||75||158||+18|
|Doug Ford||United States||1955||81||82||163||+23|
Thursday, August 2, 1979
|1||Tom Watson||United States||66||−4|
|2||Rex Caldwell||United States||67||−3|
|T3||Jay Haas||United States||68||−2|
|Ron Streck||United States|
|T5||Ben Crenshaw||United States||69||−1|
|Gibby Gilbert||United States|
|Hubert Green||United States|
|Don January||United States|
|Bruce Lietzke||United States|
|Jim Masserio||United States|
|Artie McNickle||United States|
|Jerry Pate||United States|
|Alan Tapie||United States|
Friday, August 3, 1979
|1||Ben Crenshaw||United States||69-67=136||−4|
|T2||Rex Caldwell||United States||67-70=137||−3|
|Jay Haas||United States||68-69=137|
|T5||Bruce Lietzke||United States||69-69=138||−2|
|Jerry Pate||United States||69-69=138|
|Alan Tapie||United States||69-69=138|
|Tom Watson||United States||66-72=138|
|T9||Rod Funseth||United States||70-69=139||−1|
|Hubert Green||United States||69-70=139|
|Don January||United States||69-70=139|
|Artie McNickle||United States||69-70=139|
|Ron Streck||United States||68-71=139|
|Leonard Thompson||United States||72-67=139|
Saturday, August 4, 1979
|1||Rex Caldwell||United States||67-70-66=203||−7|
|2||Ben Crenshaw||United States||69-67-69=205||−5|
|Jerry Pate||United States||69-69-69=207|
|Tom Watson||United States||66-72-69=207|
|6||Ron Streck||United States||68-71-69=208||−2|
|T7||Gibby Gilbert||United States||69-72-68=209||−1|
|Bruce Lietzke||United States||69-69-71=209|
|Gene Littler||United States||71-71-67=209|
|Jay Haas||United States||68-69-73=210|
|Don January||United States||69-70-71=210|
Sunday, August 5, 1979
|Place||Player||Country||Score||To par||Money ($)|
|Ben Crenshaw||United States||69-67-69-67=272|
|3||Rex Caldwell||United States||67-70-66-71=274||−6||25,000|
|4||Ron Streck||United States||68-71-69-68=276||−4||20,000|
|T5||Gibby Gilbert||United States||69-72-68-69=278||−2||14,500|
|Jerry Pate||United States||69-69-69-71=278|
|T7||Jay Haas||United States||68-69-73-69=279||−1||9,200|
|Don January||United States||69-70-71-69=279|
|Howard Twitty||United States||70-73-69-67=279|
|T10||Lou Graham||United States||69-74-68-69=280||E||6,750|
|Gary Koch||United States||71-71-71-67=280|
Cumulative tournament scores, relative to par
The sudden-death playoff began at the first tee and Graham saved par with one putt from 18 feet (5.5 m) to tie. At the par-5 second hole, Crenshaw tapped in for birdie while Graham sank a ten-footer (3 m) to continue. He won with a birdie on the 202-yard (185 m) par-3 third hole, after Crenshaw found a bunker and his 25-foot (8 m) putt for par lipped out. Graham put his 4-iron tee shot to within 8 feet (2.4 m) and with two putts to win, sank the first.
|Place||Player||Country||Score||To par||Money ($)|
|2||Ben Crenshaw||United States||4-4-4||E||40,000|
- "Tournament Info for: 1979 PGA Championship". PGA of America. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
- Parascenzo, Marino (August 6, 1979). "Graham's birdie wins PGA in sudden death". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 9.
- Taylor, Jim (August 6, 1979). "Graham's win 'extra' special". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 15.
- Taylor, Jim (August 5, 1979). "Caldwell leads PGA by 2". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 1D.
- "Delray's Graham wins PGA". Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. August 6, 1979. p. B5.
- Jenkins, Dan (August 13, 1979). "This Graham simply refused to crack". Sports Illustrated. p. 42.
- "Gentle Ben says he's ready to win". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire reports. August 4, 1979. p. 1B.
- "1979 PGA Championship". databasegolf.com. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
- "Watson swings out of slump". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. UPI. August 3, 1979. p. 1D.
- "A longshot good shot for PGA". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire reports. August 5, 1979. p. 1B.
1979 Open Championship
|Major Championships||Succeeded by|