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PGA Championship 2021: Frequently Asked Questions

Collin Morikawa reacts as the lid to the Wanamaker Trophy falls off during the trophy presentation after the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.

Jamie Squire

After a one-off return to August in 2020 due when COVID-19 ransacked the golf calendar, the PGA Championship moves back to its “new” May dates in 2021. The 103rd playing of this championship takes place at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina and will feature its usually loaded field of top-ranked professionals. Collin Morikawa aims to defend his title from TPC Harding Park a year ago while Rory McIlroy will be trying to repeat his runaway eight-stroke victory at Kiawah from the 2012 PGA. With fans returning, albeit in a limited capacity, this year, the chase for the Wanamaker Trophy will feel a bit more normal, but the golf will be anything but typical.

When the Pete Dye course hosted the PGA nine years ago, it certainly played difficult for everyone except McIlroy, who was the only player to finish 72 holes in red figures. Located hard by the water, making it vulnerable to high winds, and with treacherous bunkers/dunes on nearly every hole, the course could produce a chaotic four days of play. With that said, the usual favorites of Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau are all leading the pack in terms of betting odds.

To prepare for what will no doubt be a surreal week at Kiawah Island, here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about the PGA Championship.

When and where is the PGA Championship being held in 2021?

This year’s PGA Championship is May 20-23 at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, which is considered to be one of the first courses to be designed for a specific event. In this case, it was the 1991 Ryder Cup. It’s a tricky and windy course edged by sawgrass. Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest ranking called it “Pete Dye’s most diabolical creation.” It stretches to 7,849 yards over a par 72 course. If it looks familiar, it also might be because it was used for some of the filming of the movies “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

Who conducts the PGA Championship?

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America conducts the event.

Are the PGA Tour and the PGA of America different?

Yes, the PGA Tour and the PGA of America have been independent of one another since 1968. The PGA Tour is an elite organization of tournament professionals, while the PGA of America is made up of club and teaching professionals who work at on- and off-course golf facilities around the country (and the world).

When and where was the first PGA Championship played? And who won?

The first PGA Championship was played in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y. England’s Jim Barnes won, 1 up, over Jock Hutchinson.

Wait, 1 up … so was the PGA Championship a match play event at one time?

Yes, from 1916 to 1957, the PGA Championship was contested as match play with a stroke-play qualifier. During the course of the championship, it was not uncommon for players to play more than 200 holes in seven days. Starting in 1958, the PGA Championship switched to the standard 72-hole, stroke-play format. Dow Finsterwald won the first stroke-play version of the event in 1958 at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa.

How many players are in the field?

There are 156 players in the field at this year's PGA Championship, with 20 of those spots reserved for club professionals who are PGA of America members.

How do club professionals earn one of the 20 spots?

The PGA of America fills the 20 spots held for club professionals for the top finishers at the PGA Professional Championship, which was played late last month. Last year, due to the coronavirus, the PGA of America had the top 20 of the 2019 PGA of America Club Professional player of the year points list take the spots.

Has a club professional ever won the PGA Championship?

Not in the modern era of the PGA Tour. According to PGA.com, the best performance since 1970 by a club professional playing in the PGA Championship was a third-place finish in 1971 by Tommy Bolt, a former tour pro who had retired from the tour. The last top 10 also came from a former tour pro—a very famous one—turned club professional: Sam Snead in 1973. Only one club professional has finished inside the top 20 in the last 30 years, Jay Overton in 1988 at Oak Tree. Only three have made the cut in the last seven years: Ben Kern at Bellerive in 2018, Omar Uresti at Quail Hollow in 2017 (he will be playing at Kiawah) and Brian Gaffney at Whistling Straits in 2015.

How are the 136 other spots in the PGA Championship determined?

For a list of ways to qualify for the PGA Championship, click here.

Can amateurs play in the PGA Championship?

The PGA Championship is limited to professionals only, meaning amateurs cannot qualify.

What does the winner of PGA Championship receive?

The PGA champion receives the Wanamaker Trophy, the largest trophy of the four men’s majors. Last year, Collin Morikawa earned a winner’s check of $1.98 million from the PGA Championship’s $11 million purse. Traditionally the winner also receives automatic invites into all three of the other majors and the Players Championship for the next five years, PGA Tour membership for the next five years and European Tour membership for the next seven years. They also become eligible to compete in the PGA Championship for life.

Who won the 2020 PGA Championship?

In a fiercely competitive final round at TPC Harding Park, Collin Morikawa came away the winner, shooting a final-round 64. At one point on the back nine, seven players were tied for the lead. But the 23-year-old Cal-Berkley grad, playing in just his third major, pulled away from the field with a pair of clutch shots on the back nine, a chip-in birdie on the 14th and an eagle on the 16th after hitting driving the green with this amazing tee shot.

The rest of the leader board was certainly impressive with Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Matthew Wolff, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose finishing behind Morikawa.

Who has won the most PGA Championships?

Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen hold the record for most PGA Championship victories with five. Nicklaus also holds the record for most runner-up finishes in the PGA Championship with four.

How many PGA Championships has Tiger Woods won?

Tiger Woods has won four PGA Championships, the last coming in 2007 at Southern Hills.

Tiger Woods makes his putt for par and to win the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2007.

Montana Pritchard/PGA of America

Who are the most famous golfers not to have won the PGA Championship?

There are three players in golf history who have won the other three men’s major championships (the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship) but have not completed the career Grand Slam by winning the PGA. They are Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Jordan Spieth. Spieth is only 27 so he has plenty of time to try and complete the Slam. This is the fifth year he will be playing the PGA with the chance to do so. After going through a three-plus-year winless drought, Spieth is playing solidly again this year after a breakthrough win at the Valero Texas Open and a T-3 finish at the Masters.

Who is the youngest winner of the PGA Championship?

Gene Sarazen is the youngest winner, claiming the title at Oakmont Country Club in 1922 at 20 years and 174 days old. He defended his title the following year at Pelham Country Club and went on to win his third and final PGA at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in 1933.

Who is the oldest winner?

Julius Boros is the oldest winner, claiming the title at Pecan Valley Golf Club in 1968 at 48 years and 142 days old. He remains the oldest winner of any of the men’s majors.

What is the PGA Championship scoring record?

The record for lowest 72-hole score in a PGA Championship was held by David Toms for his 15-under 265 total at Atlanta Athletic Club in Duluth, Ga., in 2001, but Brooks Koepka broke that mark in 2018 with his 16-under 264 at Bellerive. Koepka also tied the record set by Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open Championship for the lowest total in major championship history.

What is the PGA Championship scoring record in relation to par?

Jason Day holds the record for scoring in relation to par not only in PGA Championship history but in major championship history. The Australian was 20-under-par (268) when he won at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis., in 2015.

What is the highest winning score of a PGA Championship? In relation to par?

The highest total score of a PGA champion is one-under 287, shot by Larry Nelson in 1987 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The highest winning score in relation to par was one-over 281, shot four times: Jay Hebert, 1960; Julius Boros, 1968; Gary Player, 1972; and Dave Stockton, 1976.

What is the largest margin of victory in the PGA Championship?

The largest margin of victory in the PGA Championship belongs to Rory McIlroy, who won by eight strokes in 2012 at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (S.C.). The Northern Irishman won the event again in 2014 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. That remains his last major championship victory.

If players are tied after 72 holes, how is a winner determined?

In the event of a tie, the PGA of America employs a three-hole aggregate format for the championship's playoff. If players are tied after three holes it becomes a sudden-death playoff.

How many playoffs have there been in PGA Championship history?

Since 1958 and the move to stroke play, there have been 13 playoffs in the PGA Championship, the last coming in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club, where Keegan Bradley defeated Jason Dufner in the three-hole aggregate playoff.

What site has hosted the most PGA Championships?

Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., has hosted the most PGA Championships—four—the most recent in 2007 when Tiger Woods won.

What state has hosted the most PGA Championships?

New York has hosted the most PGA Championships with 13, including three at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., which hosted the 2013 PGA Championship and is scheduled to host again in 2023.

What are the future venues for the PGA Championship?

Future venues for the PGA Championship have been announced officially through 2029. There is also a “TBD” year for 2030, as well as a venue locked in for 2031. They are as follows:

2022 — Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Okla.

2023 — Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, N.Y.

2024 — Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Ky.

2025 — Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.

2026 — Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, Pa.

2027 — The East Course at PGA Frisco, Frisco, Texas

2028 — The Olympic Club, San Francisco

2029 — Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower), Springfield, N.J.

2030 — TBD

2031 — Congressional Country Club (Blue), Bethesda, Md.

2034 — The East Course at PGA Frisco, Frisco, Texas

Who is the favorite to win the 2021 PGA Championship?

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson leads the betting pack at Kiawah Island at 10/1 with Jon Rahm right behind him at 11/1. Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau sit at 12/1 and 14/1, respectively, and they are then followed up by Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy all at 16/1. Defending champ Collin Morikawa is next at 22/1. After an impressive showing at the Masters, Will Zalatoris is tied for the 15th best odds in the field at 33/1.

What will the weather be like for the 2021 PGA Championship?

It’s early still, but 2021 PGA Championship looks to have favorable South Carolina weather according to the long-range forecast, albeit a bit windy. Predictions calls for a little rain during championship days, but it looks to be in the 70s all week. The wind looks to be in the 5-12 mph range

Stephen Szurlej

What is The Ocean Course known for?

This will be the second PGA Championship at this course on Kiawah Island and its last iteration featured the greatest victory margin in this event’s history. A fierce thunderstorm on Saturday in 2012 and winds gusting on Friday at around 20-30 mph were just a few of the very tough conditions that led to extremely slow play and high scores.

Arguably more famous, however, was the first big event held at the Ocean Course—the 1991 Ryder Cup. Nicknamed “The War by the Shore” because of how competitive the clash was between the United States and Europe, and the gamesmanship that was seen between the two sides. The contest came down to a last Sunday singles match between Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin. Langer faced a six-foot putt for par on the 18th hole that would have won his match and ended the overall contest in a 14-14 tie. But he missed and the Americans walked off with the wild victory.

Who designed The Ocean Course?

The 7,849-yard par 72 course was designed by Pete and Alice Dye after the couple was hired and given two years to build a seaside masterpiece for the 1991 Ryder Cup. The wild landscape features a course that is just 55 acres, but you won’t hear us complaining.

Who broadcasts the PGA Championship?

This year’s PGA Championship will be broadcast between ESPN and CBS due to a joint contract between the two. ESPN replaced TNT in 2020 and holds rights to all of the early round and weekend morning coverage, including supplemental coverage on ESPN+. CBS will hold all rights to afternoon coverage of weekend rounds and will feature Jim Nantz play-by-play.