With Rory McIlroy’s stirring victory at the Open Championship in the books, Golf Connections’ host Mitch Laurance turns his attention to the last major of 2014, the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky, as he begins ‘PGA Championship Month’ on TheGolfDirector.com with a very special guest, 1979 PGA Champion (and 1981 US Open Champion) David Graham.
Mitch begins the show by thanking Billy Mac for his song “When Walter Hagen Comes to Town” off his ‘Back 9’ CD (which honors the man who, along with Jack Nicklaus, shares the most PGA Championship victories), as well as his partners on Golf Connections, the Golf History with Peter Alliss iPad app (golfhistoryapp.com), Dottie Pepper and BogeyTeesOff.com, and the Myrtle Beach Golf App on iTunes and the Google PlayStore. He then opens the show with some history of the PGA Championship, which began in 1916 (the same year the PGA of America was founded) at Siwanoy CC in New York, and was won by Englishman Jim Barnes in thrilling fashion over Scotsman Jock Hutchison in 36 holes on the final day.
Mitch then welcomes David Graham to the show, introducing David to listeners as a 2x major champion, with 8 PGA Tour victories and multiple Champions Tour victories after coming to the US from his native Australia, and more than 35 victories worldwide. Mitch begins by asking David his thoughts on Rory McIlroy’s victory at Royal Liverpool, and about the play of Tom Watson, against whom David competed on tour in the ’70s and ’80s. Listen as David describes what was so special about the week that both champions had at Hoylake, and why he was so impressed with their accomplishments.
Mitch asks David about his own history in the game in Australia. David recounts the men who influenced him growing up, the most important being the great Bruce Devlin, David’s partner in the World Cup in 1970, which the team won. It was Devlin who suggested David go to America to play, who gave David advice on his ball flight (which prompted a complete swing makeover by David in 1974) to compete on the PGA Tour. David mentions the influence of Gary Player on his development (recommending swinging with a weighted driver to lengthen David’s swing). David, humble as always, gives credit to the men who guided him along his path to the PGA Tour.
Mitch asks David about his move to the United States, and David explains the state of the worldwide game at the time. His observations about why all the top world players wanted to come to the US, about the reasons why it was imperative to make the move, and why it was at the top of David’s list to play in the States. Mitch then talks to David about 1979, and the first of David’s two major wins on the PGA Tour, the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. David explains why winning that event was of utmost importance, such as a 10 year exemption on Tour. They talk about David’s previous PGA Championships, his record in those events, and then get into detail about 1979 and the amazing performance by David in beating Ben Crenshaw in a 3 hole playoff. David’s insights into the totality of the week, what happened on the 18th hole on Sunday in making double bogey to go into the playoff with Mr. Crenshaw, and what happened in the playoff that gave him the victory is great stuff, and truly connects listeners to an inside look at one of the classic PGA Championship battles in history.
Mitch thanks David for his time and for his contributions to the game, for being a true world ambassador for golf. He reminds listeners that the next ‘PGA Championship Month’ show will be historic in nature, as 3 past Presidents of the PGA of America join Mitch at the same time, Gary Schaal, Brian Whitcombe and Allen Wronowski, in what should be an amazing discussion of some of the PGA Championship’s great history.
Golf Connections is produced and broadcast by the Zeus Radio Network for TheGolfDirector.com.