What Is a 'Wire-to-Wire' Winner in Golf?

A "wire-to-wire winner" is a golfer who wins a tournament by holding the lead following each round of play. Winning a tournament wire-to-wire is considered an impressive achievement in the golf world.

Outside of senior golf, most pro golf tournaments are four rounds (72 holes, 18 holes per round) in length. A golfer who wins a tournament wire-to-wire is in the lead at the end of the first round, in the lead after the second round and after the third round, and, obviously, is the winner at the end of the final round.

Winning wire-to-wire does not mean that the golfer held the lead at every single point in the tournament. A golfer, for example, might drop out of the lead after six holes of the second round, then regain the lead at some point later in that round. So long as the golfer is in first place at the end of each round, the victory qualifies as wire-to-wire.

Are golfers who are tied for the lead credited with a wire-to-wire win so long as they hold or share the lead after each round? Usually, yes. But winning wire-to-wire without any ties — that is, holding the solo lead after each round — is considered the more-impressive achievement. And not all tournaments include ties in their lists of wire-to-wire winners. The Masters tournament, for example, includes only golfers who held the outright lead after all four rounds as wire-to-wire champs. In the USGA's U.S. Open recordbook, there are two lists: one for golfers who led outright after each round, one for golfers who were in the lead after each round but shared the lead with another golfer(s) after one or more of those rounds.

"Wire-to-wire winner" is not an expression that originates in golf. It comes from the world of horse racing, where a horse that leads from out-of-the-gate through to the finish line is called a wire-to-wire winner. But the term has been used in golf for a very long time and is very commonly used in golf.

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