Known for his attacking style and competitive nature, Lanny Wadkins has carved out a career that included 21 PGA Tour victories through 1996.
His aggressive play might have hurt him in the majors -- he won only one, the 1977 PGA Championship -- but Wadkins won more tournaments than any player of his generation except Tom Watson and Johnny Miller.
Wadkins was already hailed as a coming star when he joined the Tour in 1972 at age 22. The Virginia native had won the 1970 U.S. Amateur, played on the Walker Cup teams of 1969 and 1971, and finished second in a Tour event, the 1970 Heritage Classic, as an amateur. He lived up to his promise in his first two years on Tour, finishing 10th and fifth on the money list while winning three times.
Wadkins then began a roller-coaster period of eight years in which he was either near the top of the money list or out of the top 50. He was in a three-year slump before winning the 1977 PGA, where he took advantage of Gene Littler's back-nine collapse at Pebble Beach to win on the third hole of sudden-death.
Wadkins later won the World Series of Golf to finish third on the money list. He won twice more in 1979, including an impressive showing in nasty winds at the Tournament Players Championship.
After two more off years in 1980 and '81, Wadkins became a more consistent player and posted 14 wins from 1982-92. He won three events each in 1982 and '85, and two in 1983 and '88. He was the PGA Player of the Year in 1985. Wadkins was a runner-up in the PGA Championship in 1982, '84, and '87, losing a playoff to Larry Nelson in the latter year. He finished third in the Masters in 1990, '91, and '93.
Wadkins gained his reputation as a competitor thanks largely to his record in the Ryder Cup Matches. Playing on eight U.S. Ryder Cup teams, he went 20-11-3. Only Arnold Palmer (22) has won more Ryder Cup matches.
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- The Best Golfers of All Time
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