Golfers Who Won Their First-Ever Champions Tour Tournament (And First Two)

Miguel Angel Jimenez won his Champions Tour debut

Golfers are eligible to join the Champions Tour as soon as they turn 50 years old. But there's joining the Champions Tour, and there's winning on the Champions Tour.

Winning one's first senior tour event is something that never happens for the vast majority of golfers in Champions Tour history. For others, though, it's something that happened incredibly fast — for a select few, win No. 1 on the world's top senior circuit happened in the very first Champions Tour tournament they played.

The List: Players Winning Their Champions Tour Debut

These are the golfers who've done it so far, with the tournament name and listed in chronological order:
  • Don January, 1980 Atlantic City International (first tournament in Champions Tour history)
  • Roberto De Vicenzo, 1980 U.S. Senior Open
  • Arnold Palmer, 1980 PGA Seniors' Championship
  • Rod Funseth, 1983 Hall of Fame Tournament
  • Gary Player, 1985 Quadel Seniors Classic
  • George Archer, 1989 Gatlin Brothers Southwest Senior Classic
  • Jack Nicklaus, 1990 The Tradition
  • Bruce Fleisher, 1999 Royal Caribbean Classic
  • Lanny Wadkins, 2000 The ACE Group Classic
  • Bobby Wadkins, 2001 Lightpath Long Island Classic
  • Mark McNulty, 2004 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am
  • Mark Wiebe, 2007 SAS Championship
  • Tom Lehman, 2009 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (team event, partnered with Bernhard Langer)
  • Michael Allen, 2009 Senior PGA Championship
  • Tom Pernice, Jr., 2009 SAS Championship
  • Rocco Mediate, 2013 Allianz Championship
  • Jeff Maggert, 2014 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship
  • Jim Furyk, 2020 The Ally Challenge
  • Phil Mickelson, 2020 Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National
A few things worth noting, and you probably noticed some of these already. First, all three members of "the Big 3" — Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus — won their Champions Tour debuts.

And in the cases of Palmer and Nicklaus, that debut victory happened in a senior major. Other winning debutantes whose first victory happened in a senior major are Roberto De Vicenzo and Michael Allen.

And one pair of brothers both accomplished the Champions Tour debut victory: the Wadkinses, Lanny and Bobby. For Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins, that was his only senior win. Bobby, meanwhile, had never won on the PGA Tour, but eventually won four total senior events.

Golfers Who Won Their First Two Champions Tour Starts

Has any golfer won the first two tournaments he played on the Champions Tour? Yes, three golfers have managed that feat:
  • Bruce Fleisher, 1999 Royal Caribbean Classic, American Express Invitational
  • Jim Furyk, 2020 The Ally Challenge, Pure Insurance Championship
  • Phil Mickelson, 2020 Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National, Dominion Energy Charity Classic
No golfer has ever won the first three tournaments he played on the Champions Tour.

Photo credit: "Miguel Angel Jimenez" by theglobalpanorama is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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