Top Golf Comebacks of All Time

The Greatest Golf Comebacks of All Time

To people who don’t watch it regularly Golf can seem like a sport with few amazing moments that match up to US Open golf betting, the usual suspects mop up the majority of the titles and it can be obvious who’s going to win straight after the first round. On a few occasions though spectators, players and commentators of the sport have been speechless as somebody comes from nowhere and takes the prize.

For this reason we decided to list the greatest golf comebacks of all time:

1995 PGA Championship – Steve Elkington comes from nowhere to win his one-and-only major

Steve Elkington performed something at the 1995 PGA Championship that not many people expected, winning the whole tournament. Going into the tournament you probably would have struggled to find odds on Steve coming close but he staged an amazing fight back from being 6 shots (-10) behind Ernie Els (-16) at the end of the third round to finishing level with Colin Montgomerie (-17) to force a play-off on the 18th. Steve birdied his putt from 20 feet away to kick off the celebrations for his one-and-only major. Steve has become more synonymous for his use of social media and his allergy to grass in recent years but deserves to kick off our list for his great achievement.

1996 Masters – Nick Faldo rallies back to beat Greg Norman

Nick Faldo wasn’t exactly a stranger to winning the Masters having already won it twice (1989 & 1990) but the way he managed to stay strong and beat Greg Norman is still talked about regularly. This one though is probably a lot less about Nick Faldo’s ability to fight back and more about his ability to stay calm under pressure. Greg Norman completely capitulated in that final round and all Nick had to do was hold his nerve and collect the green jacket. For two warring greats it was lovely to see them embrace at the end too. Golfing history.

1999 Open Championship – Paul Lawrie overturns 10-stroke deficit after 54 holes to win

Paul Lawrie probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for this triumph, it’s often said he won this tournament through fluke and not much else. Lawrie was well behind going in to the final day but managed to make up ground on Jean Van de Velde who finished the 3rd round 5 shots in the lead but succumbed to the pressure and collapsed to be level with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie. Lawrie breezed the play-off to walk away with the Claret Jug and etch his name into the golfing history books.

1999 Ryder Cup – Team USA defy the odds to beat Team Europe in “Battle of Brookline”

The 1999 Ryder Cup victory for Team USA known as the “Battle of Brookline” will be spoken about for years and years to come, as it has been since the final day, for a number of reasons.

The good: Team USA storm back to take the Ryder Cup from under the noses of Team Europe in one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of sport.

The bad: On what would have probably been the penultimate shot (depending on Olazabal taking it to the final hole) Justin Leonard sank a 40 foot put to put the competition seeming beyond doubt. What happened next was pandemonium; Team USA burst onto the green to congratulate Leonard before Olazabal had taken his shot (which would have taken the round into the final hole) and walked and trampled directly in Jose Olazabal’s putting line. This was seen as a serious breach of golfing etiquette and it was slammed by pundits and players the world over.

2012 Ryder Cup – Team Europe storm to victory over Team USA in the “Miracle at Medinah”

Unlike Team USA in 1999, Team Europe managed to claw back one of the most unlikely wins in the 2012 Ryder Cup. Team USA had a commanding lead of 10-4 at one point in the contest but the Europeans didn’t roll over and take it. Some inspired finishing, most notably from Martin Kaymer, gave Team Europe a massive win (14 ½ vs 13 ½ ) and one that will be remembered forever.

1950 U.S Open – Ben Hogan overcomes life-threatening injuries to win the 1950 U.S Open

Ben Hogan, affectionately known as “The Wee Iceman” by the scots, was one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Hogan was a promising player in his youth and managed to get a few wins under his belt before disaster stuck. Driving with his wife in the car they were hit head on by a Greyhound bus and the injuries he sustained were life threatening; a double fractured pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a fractured ankle, a chipped rib and serious blood clots. During surgery his vena cava was tied off to aid his recovery but this caused him serious circulation issues for the entirety of his career.

Having thought he might never walk again, he went one better and got back into competitive golf returning to the PGA tour in 1950. He went on to win a further 6 Major championships and capped off his remarkable career with a total of 69 wins, 64 of which on the PGA tour. He passed away in 1997 but will forever be remembered for the greatest come back in the history of golf.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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