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A Guide to the PGA Championship

The PGA Championship is one of the top four major golf tournaments, it is organised by the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA). The tournament is held in different venues around the US each year, most commonly in the state of New York where it has been held 13 times, followed by Ohio with 11 and Pennsylvania with 9.

The tournament is played in the stroke play format, meaning that golfers will be ranked on their overall strokes rather than how many holes they "won" in the event. Up to 156 contestants can start, and will play four rounds consisting of 18 holes each, but after the first 36 holes, there will be a cut. The first 65 players one the leaderboard will "make the cut" and the other players who fall outside of the first 65 "miss the cut", the tournament then proceeds with all of the golfers who made the cut. At the end of the four rounds, the player with the least strokes will win the tournament. In the case of a tie between two or more players, they will go into a sudden death playoff until there is a winner.

Who Qualifies for the PGA Championship?

Up to 156 golfers can compete in the event, though it differs from the other major events by not inviting top amateur players to participate. The PGA determines which players will receive invitations with a list of qualification criteria:

  • Every former PGA Champion
  • Winners of the last five U.S. Opens
  • Winners of the last five Masters
  • Winners of the last five Open Championships
  • Winners of the last three The Players Championships
  • The current Senior PGA Champion
  • The low 15 scorers and ties in the previous PGA Championship
  • The 20 low scorers in the last PGA Professional Championship
  • The 70 leaders in official money standings on the PGA Tour (starting one week before the previous year's PGA Championship and ending two weeks before the current year's PGA Championship)
  • Members of the most recent United States and European Ryder Cup Teams, provided they are in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of one week before the start of the tournament
  • Any tournament winner co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship
  • The PGA of America reserves the right to invite additional players not included in the categories listed above
  • The total field is a maximum of 156 players. Vacancies are filled by the first available player from the list of alternates (those below 70th place in official money standings)

The PGA also reserves 20 of the 156 places for club members who are professional golfers. The PGA Championship has always been one of the most difficult tournaments to qualify for.

History of the PGA Championship

The PGA was formed in 1916 in New York, by Rodman Wanamaker. The American businessman, who was the heir to the Wanamaker's department store fortune, met with 35 of the top golfers including Walter Hagen and Francis Ouiment. The meeting was held in Wykagyl Country Club, where the association was created along with the annual tournaments.

The original PGA Championship was played as a 36-hole elimination match play format tournament. This meant that the tournament was played in rounds between two golfers, with the winner proceeding to the following round. The first tournament was held in the same year with 32 entries. The event was won by James Barnes, who beat Jock Hutchinson in the final. Barnes collected the $500 prize, the Wanamaker Trophy and a diamond studded medal, a personal gift awarded by Wanamaker, who was also a master jeweller.

In the following two years, the tournament was cancelled due to the American participation in World War I. In 1919 the tournament was held and Barnes returned and won it again. In the 1920s, the PGA Championship was dominated by Walter Hagen and saw the emergence of Gene Sarazen. Walter Hagen won 5 championships and helped bring publicity and popular interest in the golfing event. Sarazen won the championship in 1922 at the age of 20, a record that still stands to this day. He would go on to defend his title in the following year, beating Hagen in a play off on the 38th hole.

The PGA continued to host the annual competition, moving the event from autumn to early summer in the 1930s. In 1957, the PGA lost money on the tournament, as the event was too long. The match play format was replaced by stroke play, in which the contestants could reduce the number of holes that were played across the tournament. This marked the start of the modern PGA Championship.

In 1963, Jack Nicklaus won his first championship. He was a runner up in the following 2 years, and would have to wait until 1971 to win his second title. He won in 1971, 1973 and 1975, to put himself one behind Walter Hagen's record. In 1980, at the age of 40, Nicklaus managed to win one more championship, matching Hagen's record. Arnold Palmer, a legendary golfer throughout the 1960s, was one of the most successful golfers to never win the PGA Championship. He had finished as a runner up on three separate occasions, though he had won all three of the other major tournaments. Though the PGA Championship eluded him, he was still a winner of the US Masters, British Open and the US Open, and he was one of the most revered players in his time.

In 1999, Tiger Woods won his first PGA Championship at the age of 23, becoming the fifth youngest golfer to win. He won the tournament again the following year in a wire to wire victory, becoming the fourth player in the tournament to do so. Woods won the tournament again in back to back years in 2006-07.

In the past decade, there have been three players who have won the tournament multiple times. These include Rory McIlroy, who won it in 2012 and 2014, Brooks Koepka, who won it in 2018 and 2019, and Phil Mickelson who won it in 2005 and 2021. To date, Phil Mickelson holds the record for the longest time elapsed between two wins, at 16 years.

PGA Championship Records and Winners

Most Wins

Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen hold the record for the most wins with 5 each. Jack Nicklaus also holds the most runner up finishes with 4.

Lowest Score

Brooks Koepka holds the record for the lowest absolute 72-hole score, with 264 strokes.

Youngest Winner

Gene Sarazen set the record for the youngest winner in 1922 when he was 20 years and 174 days old.

Oldest Winner

Phil Mickelson set the record for the oldest winner in 2021 when he was 50 years and 11 months old.

How to Bet on the PGA Championship

Golf betting is intriguing because there are so many different bets that can be placed. The game itself is slower than most sports, which can give bettors the chance to assess player performance and to try and improve their bets. While there are a number of standard bets that can be placed, at we also offer a number of more specific bets with huge odds.  Due to the number of entries in the PGA Championship, and all the other major golfing events, the odds for standard bets are also usually high at the outset of the competition.

Standard bets may include outright winners of the competition, which can be placed on any of the contestants before the tournament starts or even after the start, though the odds may change during the course of the event. In addition to this there are each way bets, which can be placed on a golfer to finish in the top 5 or 6. There are bets that are exclusive to golf, such as head to head bets or versus the field. In head to head, a bet can be placed on the individual winner between two or more golfers. A versus the field bet would be a bet on any of the golfers to not win the tournament. This bet contrasts the to win bet, as it will have lower odds at the outset, but as a clear favourite emerges in the tournament, the versus the field bet on that golfer will be far higher.

When placing any bets, it is always important to be in control of how much money you spend. You should never play with more money than you can afford to lose. For more information or help on responsible gambling you can look to

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