Remembering the Longest Odds Winners of Golf’s Majors

By their very nature, golf’s majors are designed to test every department of a player’s game – typically, only the finest will thrive under such a stern examination.

Take Augusta National, home of The Masters. Although it was designed nearly a century ago in 1933, Augusta remains a stern test to this day – its unique routing ensuring that it cannot be overpowered by gym-honed players armed with the latest equipment.

The U.S. Open has, historically, been designed to provide the toughest assignment in golf – when devilish course architecture meets grueling weather conditions, usually it’s the most skilled that thrive.

But that’s not to say there haven’t been shock results in golf’s majors over the years. Far from it…

Orville Moody (U.S. Open, 1969)

The golf landscape in the 1960s was similar, in a way, to today.

Load up the golf odds at Paddy Power Sports for any major in 2024, and you’ll see three players listed at odds of +1000 or shorter: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm.

The betting tips will focus on that trio too, given their outstanding pedigree, and a similar case unfolded in the late sixties, with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus dominating the sport.

Few others were given a chance at the Cypress Creek course – and certainly not Orville Moody, who had to battle through regional qualifying just to make it to the U.S. Open.

What followed was extraordinary, as Moody – an Army veteran who had never won on the PGA TOUR before – outlasted the stellar field to lift the trophy in the most unlikely circumstances.

Shaun Micheel (PGA Championship, 2003)

You generally don’t get many +25000 winners in any sport, but at golf’s majors? They’re as rare as hen’s teeth.

Shaun Micheel was ranked 169 in the world heading into the 2003 PGA Championship, which insinuates there were at least 168 players more likely to win the tournament than him.

But after two rounds at the Oak Hill Country Club, Micheel found himself as the solo leader, two shots clear of the field.

Most expected the Floridan to crumble thereafter, and after the third round, he found himself tied on -4 with Chad Campbell heading into the final 18 holes.

But it was Campbell who blinked at the finishing line, and with the likes of four-time major winner Ernie Els and Masters champion Mike Weir unable to close the gap, Micheel ground out a level-par round of 70 to clinch his one and only senior-level title.

Y.E. Yang (PGA Championship, 2009)

In his lengthy reign of dominance, when Tiger Woods was prominent at the top of the leaderboard in majors it was almost inevitable that he would go on and convert the victory.

The Big Cat led the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club after the first, second, and third rounds – his sportsbook odds of -140, -500, and -455 at each stage indicative of his assumed win.

But one player who hadn’t read the script was Yang Yong-eun, who would become better known as Y.E. Yang. A third round of 67 propelled the Korean to within two shots of Woods’ lead – he’d been available at odds of +15000 prior to a ball being hit.

Unusually for him, Tiger struggled with his putting on the final day, but Yang went into warp mode, chipping in for eagle on the fourteenth hole, before hitting an incredible 200-yard approach at the last – shaping his ball around a tree and landing inside ten-feet of the cup.

Yang tidied up the birdie putt to complete one of golf’s unlikeliest and longest-odds major triumphs.