The 1979 PGA Championship was the 61st PGA Championship, played August 2–5 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, a suburb northwest of Detroit. After a double-bogey on the 72nd hole, David Graham won the first of his two major titles on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff with Ben Crenshaw. Through 17 holes in the final round, Graham was seven-under, with seven birdies and ten pars. Of the 21 holes he played Sunday, nine were birdies.
After 54 holes, Rex Caldwell was the leader at 203 (−7), Crenshaw was two strokes back and Graham four behind at 207 (−3), all in search of their first major title. It was the fifth runner-up finish for Crenshaw in a major, and second consecutive. He later won two majors, both at the Masters, in 1984 and 1995; Graham won his second at the U.S. Open in 1981 at Merion.
Three-time champion Sam Snead set the record for the oldest player to make the cut in a major. He was 67 years, 2 months, and 7 days of age at the cut and finished 42nd at 288 (+8). He won in 1942, 1949, and 1951, all in match play.
It was the sixth major championship held on the South Course, which previously hosted the PGA Championship in 1972 and the U.S. Open in 1924, 1937, 1951, and 1961. It later hosted the U.S. Open in 1985 and 1996, the PGA Championship in 2008, and the Ryder Cup in 2004.
This was the third consecutive playoff at the PGA Championship (and nearly the fourth, as the 1976 title was decided by the final putt on the 72nd green).
Graham became the second Australian-born player to win the PGA Championship, preceded by Jim Ferrier in 1947.
Jerry Pate and Tom Watson, runners-up in the previous year's playoff, were tied with Graham in third place after 54 holes. Pate's 71 tied for fifth but Watson's 74 dropped him into a tie for twelfth at 281. Watson had won three of his eight majors at this time, but never completed the career grand slam, missing the PGA Championship leg. Defending champion John Mahaffey tied for 51st.