PGA Championship

Golf majors nothing new to the Carolinas

Payne Stewart, cradling his trophy for winning the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
Payne Stewart, cradling his trophy for winning the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. KRT

This week will be Charlotte’s first golf major, but the Carolinas have been a popular locale since 1999.

The Carolinas didn’t host a golf major until the mid-1930s, when the PGA Championship came to the famed No. 2 course at Pinehurst. Now Pinehurst has hosted four majors, most recently the 2014 U.S. Open.

Quail Hollow, a longtime tour stop with the Wells Fargo Championship, will host the world’s best golfers when competition runs Thursday through Sunday.

The Carolinas are speckled with major-worthy courses, from outside Winston-Salem in Clemmons, to the sandhills of Pinehurst, to the ocean courses near Charleston.

A look at past majors in the Carolinas:

1936 PGA Championship, Pinehurst No. 2

Denny Shute was nicknamed the “Human Icicle” for his staid personality – so indifferent to attention that he’d sometimes send his wife to pick up a trophy and paycheck. This was the first PGA Championship in the South. Shute also won two other majors and appeared on three Ryder Cup teams.

1974 PGA Championship, Tanglewood in Clemmons

Lee Trevino vs. Jack Nicklaus was one of golf’s great rivalries, and those two were head-to-head throughout the final round of this major in suburban Winston-Salem. Trevino’s bogey on the 17th hole pared his lead to a shot. He parred 18 to win it over the Golden Bear.

Payne Stewart Pinehurst
Payne Stewart celebrates the winning putt on the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2 in the 1999 U.S. Open. JEFF SINER

1999 U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2

Payne Stewart needed a 15-foot putt on 18 to stay out of a playoff with Phil Mickelson. He nailed it in one of the most memorable shots in Carolinas golf history. But he had made a 25-footer at 16 to set up that drama. Stewart tragically died in a plane crash months later. A statue was erected in Pinehurst to commemorate his victory.

2005 U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2

Michael Campbell is one of those stories that define what’s cool about the U.S. Open format, where part off the field is regional qualifiers. Campbell came through one of those, then held off a charge by Tiger Woods. Campbell went back to relative obscurity after that season, only playing in one of the next eight U.S. Opens.

Rory McIlroy (in red) celebrates his 2012 PGA Championship victory on the Ocean Course of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, S.C. Evan Vucci AP

2012 PGA Championship, Kiawah Island

Rory McIlroy won his second major with a particularly dominant final round. He went without a bogey that day to score a 66. His eight-stroke margin over runner-up David Lynn was then the widest victory in the history of the PGA Championship.

2014 U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2

German Martin Kaymer had one of the great first-two-rounds performances in major history. He shot two rounds of 65 to set a tournament record for the lowest two-round total. That gave him a huge cushion over Erick Compton and Rickie Fowler, who tied for second.

Still to come

2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell