Who Was the First Left-Handed PGA Tour Winner?

Left-handed golfers are not exactly common on the PGA Tour today, but they are definitely much more common than in the past. It took decades of pro tournament golf in the United States before the PGA Tour had its first lefty winner. Who was that?

It was Bob Charles, the New Zealand golfer who went on to earn membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame. And the first lefty win happened on April 21, 1963, when Charles closed out his win in the Houston Classic. He won by a single stroke over runner-up Fred Hawkins.

A couple months later, Charles won again at the 1963 British Open, becoming the first left-handed golfer to win a major championship. Charles added more PGA Tour wins in 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1974, six in total.

Charles had been winning tournaments since his first pro victory at the 1954 New Zealand Open. And his first on the European circuit was the 1961 Bowmaker Tournament.

By the time of Charles' last PGA Tour win 1974, however, the tour had its second lefty winner. Sam Adams won the 1973 Quad Cities Open (he was the first American lefty to win on the PGA Tour). There wasn't another left-handed winner until 1986, when Ernie Gonzalez got the Pensacola Open victory when it was called after 36 holes due to torrential rains.

Then, in 1991, a young amateur named Phil Mickelson won the Northern Telecom Open (better remembered as the Tucson Open). And Mickelson didn't stop winning for decades. He eventually crossed the 40-victory threshold, including wins in five majors, becoming one of the PGA Tour's all-time greats.

But it wasn't Mickelson who became the second lefty major champion. That was Mike Weir at the 2003 Masters, 40 years after Charles had become the first lefty major winner.

Lefties makes up only about 10-percent of the world's population. There have been multiple left-handed winners come along since Mickelson. Bob Charles, however, will always have the distinction of being the PGA Tour's first left-handed winner.

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