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Ranking the biggest upsets in golf no easy task

It comes on like slow lightning out of a blue sky, forming, building and then striking, leaving us in wonder, eyes wide, mouths agape.

The Upset. Fate throwing a bolt, scattering the expected and making way for a miracle to walk in.

It's one of the most compelling reasons we love sports.

In his book "Taking Dead Aim," Ben Crenshaw offers his list of the biggest upsets in golf:

Billy Casper overtakes Arnold Palmer, making up seven strokes on the final nine, and then wins the playoff.

Relative unknown Jack Fleck defeats Ben Hogan to win the 1995 US Open in a playoff.

Young amateur Francis Ouimet outshoots Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to win the 1913 US Open.

Sam Snead, one of the greatest of all time, never won the US Open.

Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson never won the PGA Championship.

Europeans won their first Ryder Cup on US soil in 1987 at Muirfield Village.

Of those, I would rank Ouimet's win No. 1 and Fleck's win No. 2.

But third I would put John Daly's victory in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. Arnold Palmer would later say of that moment, "I don't think anyone in the game of golf ever stirred up as much emotion in one week."

Not many people knew John Daly -- the guys he played with on minor league tours, some he spent a little time with in college, folks who knew him back home in Dardanelle, Ark. The general public, no.

He gained entry to the PGA Championship at the 11th hour, the day before the tournament was to begin. He got in as the ninth alternate. Nine people had to drop out before he was summoned to play. Nick Price was the ninth. He dropped out to go home for the birth of his child.

Daly arrived too late for a practice round but he went out in Thursday's opening round and shot 68. He wasn't leading but he was turning heads all along the way.

Powerfully built with long flowing blond hair, Daly dazzled the galleries with his astonishing length off the tee – drives of over 300 yards when 300-yard drives were rare -- his on-target approaches and his deft putting. He wasted no time doing it, walking up to a shot, sizing it up for a few seconds, tossing his cigarette aside and letting fly. He said his swing thought was "grip it and rip it."

Major championships often produce one-day wonders, little known players who get off to a hot start but fade back as the tournament progresses.

Daly looked to be one of them, until he shot 67 in the second round. He followed with a 69 and closed with a 71 to shoot 276 and win by three shots over Bruce Lietzke.

He made 21 birdies and beat Nick Faldo by ten strokes, Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros by 11, Fred Couples by 12, Greg Norman by 13.

We had never seen anyone quite like Daly. Sam Snead said, "Most of those big knockers can't play a lick but this kid canIt was like watching a singer or somebody who makes the hair come up on your neck."

Daly also won the British Open at, of all places, St. Andrews, the cradle of golf, and in his typical carefree – some might say clueless – way, when asked to say a few words at the presentation ceremony, asked, "What the hell do you want me to say?"

Through the years, he has fought alcohol, depression, gambling, marital issues and his weight. He has had numerous on and off course incidents that had us shaking our heads.

When he tees up, though, crowds still follow him. He doesn't win anymore but they don't seem to care. They relate to him somehow. Always have. And they like to see him grip it and rip it.

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