Newcomers Arrive at Kiawah Looking to Add Their Names to Historic List
In 1991, John Daly won the PGA Championship in his first appearance and in doing so became just the sixth player in the history of the Championship to accomplish the feat. Daly, who was the ninth and final alternate into the field, achieved what seemed impossible when he won the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in only his second major championship start.
Now 30 years removed from Daly’s improbable victory, a slew of newcomers will arrive at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the site of this year’s PGA Championship, looking to add their name to a short list of players who have won the men’s major in their debut, and become the first since Keegan Bradley in 2011. Here’s a look at some of the first-timers competing in 2021.
At the 2021 Masters Tournament, Will Zalatroris became an instant fan-favorite. In April, the 24-year-old made his debut at Augusta National Golf Club where his appearance drew comparisons to that of the caddie from Happy Gilmore, a mid-1990s movie that has gone down in golfing lore for its ridiculous on-course antics featuring Adam Sandler. The likeness between Zalatoris and Gilmore’s caddie in the film wasn’t lost on Sandler either, who Tweeted at Zalatoris during the weekend of The Masters. Zalatoris went on to finish runner-up in just his second major start, having also finished T6 at the 2020 U.S. Open. Zalatoris has six top 10s so far this season on the PGA Tour.
Having made his major championship debut in 2014, it comes as a surprise that seven years later Maverick McNealy is only now making his debut at the PGA Championship. In 2014, McNealy qualified for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst at the age of 18. Since then, the former top-ranked amateur in the world has made a total of three major starts before teeing it up at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. He’s had a solid season in 2021 with two top 10s, including a runner-up finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. However, he has struggled in the run-up to the PGA Championship, having missed the cut in his last two starts.
Although it’s been 11 years since Dean Burmester turned professional, he’s relatively unknown among fans in the United States. However, Burmester is no stranger to fans who follow golf in other parts of the world. He’s won twice on the European Tour and seven times on the Sunshine Tour, which is based in his native South Africa. With his debut at the 2021 PGA Championship, Burmester is making just his sixth start on the PGA Tour and third major appearance in what will be his first trip to South Carolina.