Covering the 1994 PGA Championship meant covering everything from A-to-Z. Held at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Nick Price dominated the event leading wire-to-wire. Finishing 11 under par, Price defeated Corey Pavin by six shots. The PGA Championship came on the heels of Price winning the British Open, giving Price his third and final major championship victory.
That dominance did not mean the four days lacked drama. On Thursday, Paul Azinger returned to the professional golf tour after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since December. In 1993, “Zinger” won his only major, the PGA Championship. He was heartily welcomed by the fans as he doffed his hat and showed his new growth of hair after months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. That was the “Z” of the week.
It was the “A” of the week that held special meaning for the fans in Tulsa, the television audience and me. Arnold Palmer played his final PGA Championship. Arnie’s go-for-broke style on the course brought fans to the game of golf in droves and made the golfer one of the richest athletes in history. It was evident Palmer would not make the cut. On his walk down the long hill from the first tee box to the fairway below, Palmer waved to fans lining the hole as a chorus of cheers greeted the great champion.
There were so many great players to cover. Payne Stewart in his plus fours, 24-year-old Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman in the hunt but failing to win another major and so many more.
This week, Jordan Spieth attempts to win three of the four majors this summer after losing the British Open by one stroke. I can only imagine the cheers the 22-year-old might hear on Sunday. However, in my mind it would take something that big to top the cheers I heard over the course of Palmer’s final round in 1994. Remember, Spieth was only one year old when the 1994 PGA Championship brought me to Tulsa.