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England at Headingley in 1981, Dennis Taylor in the Crucible in 1985, Nick Faldo in Augusta National in 1996, Liverpool in Istanbul in 2005, The Miracle in Medinah in 2012 and the New England Patriots at Super Bowl LI in 2017. All of these are great sporting comebacks but they all pale in comparison to Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) in 1996.
For many, the golfing icon of this generation, would be Tiger Woods, who spent 246 weeks as the sport's number one ranked player in the world. He won his first major aged 21 by a record breaking 20 strokes and went on to win 14 majors. Not too shabby.
But that pales in comparison to the classic story of a hockey player turned golfer who just needed a bit more cash to buy his grandma's house and get her out of a retirement home.
To really appreciate Gilmore's incredible story as an innovator of his sport and a true champion, we have to go all the way back and remember that the young American wasn't even a golfer by trade but an ice hockey player.
Gilmore's wayward skating skills meant that he would never make it on the ice. However, fate would see him discover a knack for being able to drive a ball over 400 yards.
On this date in 1996, Chubbs turned Happy Gilmore into a PGA champion. pic.twitter.com/WrP8SDYnpE
- ESPN (@espn) February 16, 2018
Obviously, an ability to drive that far is good, but it's not the only thing that golf is built on. If a lack of a short game didn't stop you winning a major, then Lee Westwood would have a plethora of golf's biggest prizes to his name.
Gilmore was lucky enough to employ the genius of legendary golfer Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers) to help coach him. Peterson had been away from the limelight for many years after an unfortunate accident that saw himlose a hand to an alligator.
The relationship between golfer and coach was never perfect but Gilmore gave Peterson a new lease of life before the incident that would take Peterson's life, sadly during an important part of the season, and in return he imparted all his wisdom to the young up and comer.
One thing that is often overlooked in Happy's story is his working class upbringing in a sport often dominated by the middle classes. Fortunately from Gilmore the PGA's PR team was able to notice his appeal as they pushed him further into the limelight as casual viewers really got behind him.
His temperament though saw him in front of a disciplinary board on more than one occasion and he even had the odd run in with tour Commissioner Doug Thompson, especially when he was fined $25,00 for a scrap with celebrity Rob Barker during a pro-am tournament.
Despite the setback of being suspended for a month Gilmore still somehow made the tour championship. It was in the build up to the final tournament of the season that Paterson, spooked by the alligator after his protege's own run in with the animal, would literally fall to his death.
It's almost remiss of me to get this far in retelling the incredible rags to riches story of Gilmore without mentioning his sporting rival Shooter McGavin *pow pow* (Christopher McDonald).
All the greats in sport tend to have an adversary, for Roger Federer it was Rafael Nadal, Sir Alex Ferguson had Arsene Wenger, Lionel Messi has Cristiano Ronaldo and Gilmore had McGavin and the pair hated each other
The pair would clash several times during the season with Shooter getting more and more frustrated with the threat that his new opponent was causing to his chances of taking home the Tour Championships again.
But we all know how their rivalry came to an end, with Happy shooting an impossible chip shot that ricochets off a tower until it pops out of a bunch of pipes and slots right in the hole.
Never forget that Shooter McGavin blew a 4-shot lead on the back 9 :joy:. https://t.co/K3YCzKZwN6 pic.twitter.com/hsWkMgyAZA
- Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) February 17, 2018
Incredibly, 22 years after being released around the world, Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore is still as good as ever and one of his better comedies.
Critics didn't think it was all that, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a mere 60 percent, however they did note while it's not going to win any awards, it's a people pleaser.
"Those who enjoy Adam Sandler's schtick," the critical consensus reads, "will find plenty to love in this gleefully juvenile take on professional golf; those who don't, however, will find it unfunny and forgettable."
Happy Anniversary, Happy Gilmore .
Featured Image Credit: Universal Pictures
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