Feels Like the First Time: PGA Championship Stats Say it All

Feels Like the First Time: PGA Championship Stats Say it All

The PGA attracts "rookie" major winners, like Jason Dufner in 2013.
Fred Vuich

Sorry, Jordan and Bubba—your chances of winning this month’s PGA Championship don’t look great. In modern golf history, 58 percent of PGA champs have been first-time major winners.

Since 1946, 40* of the PGA’s 69 winners were hoisting their first major trophy, most recently Jason Dufner, in 2013. The toughest major event to break through and win is the Masters, with only 28 first-time winners, making Jordan Spieth’s 2015 victory even more impressive.

Incidentally, since 1946, first-timers have won all four majors in a year only four times: 1959, 1969, 2003 and 2011. Conversely, in 1972 and 2000, each of the four champions already had at least one major trophy to his name.

Let’s go back farther. In 1860, Willie Park won the first major ever played—the British Open at Prestwick. Since then, 432 more majors have come and gone, with 210 titles won by first-timers. The U.S. Open has the most “rookie” winners, with 65, just ahead of the British Open’s 62. The PGA finishes third, with 50 first-timers, followed by the Masters, with 33.

In the modern era, though, it’s the PGA Championship where rising stars have made their breakthrough.

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