August and the PGA Championship: A Historical Pairing
“August,” sings Taylor Swift, “slipped away into a moment in time.”
The influential pop superstar is on to something, as the PGA Championship moved to May in golf’s Major Championship calendar in 2019 after almost 50 years in August.
Save for 1971 (weather) and 2016 (golf’s return to the Olympics) each PGA Championship from 1969 to 2018 was played in August – the most, by far, of any month in the Championship’s history. It was also played in August eight other times from 1920 to 1965. All in, nearly half of all PGA Championships were played in August.
The summertime celebration provided no shortage of hot moments and all-time memories. Take a look at some highlights from the nearly half-century of PGA Championships contested during the eighth month of the year.
Most Times Hosted
This year’s PGA Championship venue, Southern Hills Country Club, hosted for the fifth time in its storied history – with four of those taking place in August. The first came in 1970, won by Dave Stockton. Raymond Floyd (1982), Nick Price (1994), and Tiger Woods (2007) were the other champions in Tulsa prior to Justin Thomas’ triumph this year, in perhaps some more pleasant temperatures than Oklahoma in August.
Seven courses hosted the PGA Championship three times in August.
Whistling Straits was the most modern of those venues, hosting in 2004, 2010, and 2015. Atlanta Athletic Club, Oakland Hills Country Club, Oakmont Country Club, Firestone Country Club have all hosted three times along with Oak Hill Country Club and Valhalla Country Club, which are set to host the 2023 and 2024 PGA Championships, respectively, and in May for the first time.
Jack Nicklaus is the most prolific PGA Championship winner in golf’s history, but ironically only three of his five Wanamaker Trophies came at August events. His first PGA Championship win, in 1963, was in July while his second, in 1971, was in February. He won in 1973 at Canterbury Golf Club, 1975 at Firestone Country Club, and 1980 at Oak Hill all in August, however.
With Thomas’ victory at Southern Hills this summer he joined Brooks Koepka and Nicklaus as the only golfers to win the PGA Championship in both August and May.
Tiger Woods’ four PGA Championship titles all came in August (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).
Most of the modern legends of the game including Rory McIlroy, Larry Nelson, Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, Nick Price, and Vijay Singh all captured their two Wanamaker Trophies in August.
Most of the prolific scoring efforts in the history of the PGA Championship came through the August events.
Jason Day’s win in 2015 at Whistling Straits saw him finish at 20-under for the week – the lowest 72-hole score in relation to par in the Championship’s history.
Save for two (Koepka, 2019 and Bubba Watson, 2022) each of the low 18-hole record scores of 63 were shot in August.
Rory McIlroy’s eight-stroke triumph – the record winning margin – happened in August in 2012.
John Daly’s out-of-nowhere victory occurred in August 1991, while Bob Tway’s sinking of Greg Norman happened in August 1986 and YE Yang’s Tiger-taming came in August 2009.
But despite that heartbreak, there was plenty of celebrating by Woods at August PGA Championships.
Woods’ 1999 duel with 19-year-old Sergio Garcia, his three-hole playoff with the unheralded Bob May in 2000, his five-shot drumming in 2006, and his title defense in 2007 which featured a second-round 63 will all go down in history as significant PGA Championship victories.
And they all happened in August.