The PGA Championship — The Year’s Last Major

History

The very first PGA Championship was held in October 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Eastchester, New York.  The purse that year was $ 2,500.  The winner was Jim Barnes who received $500 and a diamond-studded gold medal donated by Rodman Wanamaker, the department store magnate from Philadelphia. The champion also received a replica of the Wanamaker Trophy, which was also donated by Wanamaker, to keep for one year, and a smaller-sized replica of the Wanamaker Trophy to keep.  In 2013, the winner was Jason Dufner.  He collected a check for $ 1,445,000.  In 2014 the purse will be $ 10,000,000 and the winner’s check will be $ 1,800,000.

The PGA Championship was conducted at match play from 1916 to 1957.  Since the 1958 Championship play has been conducted at 72 hole stroke play.

The 2014 PGA Championship – Is this the strongest field ever?

Naturally each major wants to claim the strongest field.   This year the PGA Championship may be able to make that claim as its field included 100 of the Top 100 Players in the World Ranking before Dustin Johnson withdrew for personal reasons.  The PGA reserves 20 spots for the highest finishers in the PGA Club Professional Championship and still gets the world’s best tour players.

Valhalla1

Valhalla Golf Club, #13, Par 4, 350 yards

This year the field has a maximum of 156 players.  Played will be conducted at stroke play for 72 holes with a 36 hole cut.  The cut is low 70 and ties.  Should there be a tie after 72 holes there will be a three hole aggregate playoff encompassing holes 13, 17 & 18.  If the players are still tied there will be a sudden death playoff starting at # 18, then # 13, #17 & #18 and repeating, if necessary.

Who gets to play in the PGA Championship?

  • All former PGA Champions.
  • Winners of the last five Masters, U.S. Opens and Open Championships.
  • The 2014 Senior PGA Champion.
  • The low 15 scorers and ties from the 2013 PGA Championship.
  • The 20 low scorers in the 2014 PGA Professional National Championship.
  • The 70 leaders from the PGA Championship points list, from the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational through the 2014 RBC Canadian Open.
  • Members of the 2012 United States and European Ryder Cup Teams, provided they are in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of July 11, 2014.
  • Winners of tournaments co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour since the previous PGA Championship. (excluding pro-am or team events)
  • Vacancies are filled by the first available player from the list of alternates (those below 70th place on the PGA Championship points list)
  • The PGA of America reserves the right to invite additional players not included in the categories listed above.

PGA Championship Trivia

Two players have won more PGA Championships than anyone else.  They are Jack Nicklaus (’63, ’71, ’73, ’75 ’80) and Walter Hagen (’21, ’24, ’25, ‘26, ’27).  Each man has five titles.  Interestingly enough both men won one of their championships in Dallas – Jack in 1963 at the Dallas Athletic Club and Sir Walter in 1927 at Cedar Crest Golf Club.  Jack won the first of his five in Dallas and Walter on the last of his five in Dallas.  Jack won all of his championships at stroke play.  Walter won all of his championships at match play.

Jack won the first of his five PGA Championships at the Dallas Athletic Club in 1963.  It was played the week immediately following the 1963 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.  Jack, using a persimmon driver and a wound ball, won the long drive contest at the Championship that year with a drive of 341 yards, 17 inches.  He won a money clip which he still carries to this day.  The long drive contest returns to the PGA Championship this year.  The winner will receive a money clip inspired by the one Jack won in 1963.

ValhallaMoneyClip

The temperatures exceeded 100 degrees in 1963 and the Wanamaker Trophy was left on a table for a greenside presentation.  Jack had to use a towel to hold the trophy during the award presentation because the trophy had become so hot it would have burned his hands.

 

ValhallaJack

In 1927 Walter Hagen won his fifth and final PGA Championship at Cedar Crest Golf Club.  The club was established as a private club in 1916 and opened its course in 1919.  The golf course was designed by A. W. Tillinghast, who also designed Brookhollow Golf Club, Winged Foot Golf Club and Baltusrol Golf Club.  No major championship to that date had been played this far south or this far west.  The format that year was 36 holes of stroke play on Monday followed by match play Tuesday through Saturday.  The field of 32 players who made match play would play five matches of 36 holes each.  Play concluded on Saturday.  Cedar Crest Golf Club had also hosted the Dallas Open in 1926, which was won by Macdonald Smith.

Among the spectators watching in 1927 was 15 year old Byron Nelson.

Cedar Crest Golf Club closed in 1929 and was purchased by the City of Dallas in 1946.  Cedar Crest, the public facility, hosted the 1954 United Golf Association Negro National Open and, later that same year, the USGA Public Links Championship.  Today Cedar Crest is known as Cedar Crest Park and is a City of Dallas golf course.

This year’s Championship will be played at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.  Valhalla G.C. also hosted the 1996 Championship and the 2000 Championship.  Both of those Championships resulted in a tie.  Mark Brooks beat Kenny Perry in 1996 in the playoff.  Tiger Woods beat Bob May in 2000 in the playoff.

Tom Watson is in the field this year.  It will be Tom’s 32nd appearance in the PGA.  This moves Tom to # 3 on the all time appearance list behind Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who each competed 37 times.  In Tom’s career he won 71 professional events world wide including 8 major championships but he has never won the PGA Championship.  In Arnold Palmer’s career he won 95 professional events world wide including 7 major championships.  Arnold never won a PGA Championship.

Valhalla Golf Club, #9, Par 4, 415 yards

Valhalla Golf Club, #9, Par 4, 415 yards

scicon Tim Gamso
Member
Salesmanship Club of Dallas