When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >
The PGA Championship (sometimes referred to outside the United States as the USPGA Championship) is one of the four tournaments in the golfing year that are known collectively as the major championships.
They are the four events that define a golfer’s career. Some very fine performers have failed to win a major and it is a gap in their CV that prevents them from being discussed among the elite in history.
The Masters is the first major to take place every year (in April), the British Open is the oldest major of them all (initiated in the 19th century), and both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship are over 100 years old.
The PGA Championship was originally a match-play event but became a stroke-play tournament in 1958. Once established in the new format it had a date in the schedule after the British Open, settling in the late 20th century early in August.
In 2019 it moved to a new slot on the calendar in May, allowing THE PLAYERS Championship to move to March.
The tournament is governed by the PGA of America and it is often said that, although it is the least prestigious of the majors, it has the strongest field.
The new date has helped the event’s stature. Previously it struggled with the knowledge that it is the fourth major (by reputation), using the tag-line ‘Glory’s Last Shot’ and then ‘The Season’s Final Major’.
The latter accidentally exaggerated the problem and was replaced with ‘This is Major.’
But with the date change, there is a sense that the tournament is a genuinely integral part of the major season, not the last in esteem as well as timeline.
The Professional Golfers Association of America was created in 1916 and the first PGA Championship was held later that year at Siwanoy Country Club in New York, won by the Englishman Jim Barnes, who also won the second edition.
Every year the champion lifts the Wanamaker Trophy, which was donated by the tournament’s early backer, the department store owner Rodman Wanamaker.
The recent date change is far from the first the event has experienced.
Only in 1965 was it moved from the week after the British Open, allowing more golfers to attend both tournaments.
Before then, American golfers often chose to play the PGA Championship over the British Open.
The first three tournaments were won by British golfers, as was the 1930 renewal, but only one other winner (Jim Ferrier of Australia in 1947) was not homegrown during the match-play era.
Moreover, until the 1990s, only two non-Americans were victorious in strokeplay – South Africa’s Gary Player won twice in 1962 and 1972, and Australia’s David Graham triumphed in 1979.
Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for the most wins (five) and Tiger Woods is a four-time winner.
Hagen was dominant in the early years, being the first American champion in 1921 and winning four times in a row from 1924.
Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead were both three-time winners before the format change, while Ben Hogan claimed a pair of victories.
Arnold Palmer never won the championship, but he was second on three different occasions.
For a long while the event had a reputation for surprise winners. John Daly was definitely that in 1991, but he went on to prove his quality in subsequent years.
Between 1990 and 2015 nine different international golfers claimed the title (Nick Price, Vijay Singh, and Rory McIlroy twice), but since 2016 Americans have dominated.
Woods’ first two victories were standout: in 1999 he withstood a charge from the then-teenage Sergio Garcia and a year later he went head-to-head with Bob May before prevailing in a playoff.
In 2009 Korea’s Y.E. Yang stunned the world, becoming the first male Asian winner of a major and he overcame Tiger Woods in the process.
In 2021, at Kiawah Island, playing on the longest major championship golf course in history Phil Mickelson became the oldest-ever winner of a major at the age of 50.
Unlike the Masters, but as with the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship travels around the United States of America.
That said, the tournament is most often held towards the east of the country.
The full field of 156 players includes every former tournament champion and the winners of the last five editions of the other majors, plus the last three winners of THE PLAYERS Championship.
In addition, the winner of the Senior PGA Championship and the top 15 finishers in the previous year’s event gain entry.
The top 70 earners on the PGA Tour, members of the most recent US and European Ryder Cup teams, and PGA Tour winners also qualify.
In addition, the top 20 finishers in the PGA Professional Championship gain entry.
The PGA of America has the right to invite additional players and commonly ensures that all of the world’s top 100 players are offered a start.
The obvious starting point is the tournament result: you can back a player to win, to place (top five, top ten, etc.) or each way (half the stake on the win, half on the place).
Beyond that, there are a number of other alternatives.
First Round Leader is a very popular market, as are group options: Top American or Top European, for example.
You can also back one player over another in 72-hole and 18-hole match bets which are mythical contests in the sense that the players don’t know they have been pitted against one another.
In each round, there will also be two or three ball contests relating to the official tee times groupings.
This is a tournament in which research will pay dividends, usually with regard to the course and conditions.
For more betting opportunities, check out WSN's list of the best golf betting sites and apps.
You will be able to bet on the next PGA Championship within hours of the last one finishing and these ante-post markets will remain open all year.
Real value can be captured this way but also beware that the each-way terms tend to be more restrictive.
In the week of the tournament itself, books are hungry for golfing punters and also wider sports fans.
Big offers will be available, plus great place terms. Hunt around and get the best terms you can find.
A number of patterns have emerged down the years which have become vital reading for punters.
Overwhelmingly, winners tend to have already finished top-10 in the championship before their win.
They are also usually in very good form with both a win already that season and a top-20 finish in their previous three starts.
Mickelson’s victory was a rare recent example – golfers in their 20s had dominated in recent times.
The course and the conditions have a huge impact on the outcome of every championship. A few recent examples explain this.
The 2021 tournament at Kiawah Island was by the coast and on a course designed by Pete Dye – both were crucial factors.
A year before the event ventured to California and TPC Harding Park, which had hosted the WGC – Dell Match Play in 2015, providing a small sample of course form.
The 2017 championship went to Quail Hollow in North Carolina, a course that regularly hosts the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Smart punters would have researched those results but also factored in the change in date and conditions.
The year’s second major championship returns this year to Valhalla which is where Rory McIlroy last secured a major win back in 2014.
It is a Jack Nicklaus design and previous results at the course suggest that form on Nicklaus layouts, and especially Muirfield Village, are a great pointer.
Among the best performers at Muirfield Village are Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay.
But the Spaniard is already among the favorites and the American is yet to genuinely contend in a major.
Of more interest would be Viktor Hovland, last year’s Muirfield Village winner, but he is currently working on his swing.
Collin Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship, is a Muirfield Village winner and he’s a standout +3300 with bet365.
Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
© Rebel Penguin ApS 2024 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)
We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.
WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.
Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.