Have Any Amateur Golfers Won on the PGA Tour?

Has an amateur golfer ever won a tournament on the PGA Tour against the world's best professionals? Yes! It hasn't happened very often since 1945, but it has happened very recently.

There were multiple amateur winners on tour in the 1940s and 1950s, then a long gap before the next one in the 1980s. A very famous golfer won as an amateur in the 1990s, then there was another long gap until the next, and most-recent, in 2024.

Amateur Winners on the PGA Tour

Starting with the most-recent and going back in time:
  • Nick Dunlap: Won the 2024 The American Express just a couple weeks after turning 20. Not only was he the first amateur winner in 33 years on the PGA Tour, but he also made the list of the tour's youngest-ever winners. His third-round 60 tied the tour's record for low round by an amateur. Dunlap had already won the U.S. Junior Amateur (in 2021) and U.S. Amateur (in 2023), joining Tiger Woods as the only golfers to win both those titles.

  • Phil Mickelson: The best golfer on this list (edging Cary Middlecoff, below), Mickelson won the 1991 Northern Telecom Open by one stroke over runners-up Bob Tway and Tom Purtzer. He was 20 years old and attending Arizona State University at the time, and had already won the U.S. Amateur Championship. He turned pro in 1992 and was one of the top players for decades: Mickelson won six majors (including the 2021 PGA Championship just shy of age 52, making him the oldest-ever major winner) and had 45 career PGA Tour victories.

  • Scott Verplank: Verplank's win at the 1985 Western Open was the first by an amateur on the PGA Tour in 29 years. While still in college at Oklahoma State University, Verplank beat Jim Thorpe in a sudden-death playoff. He turned pro later that year and finished his career with five total wins on the PGA Tour.

  • Doug Sanders: Won the 1956 Canadian Open, beating Dow Finsterwald on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. Sanders turned pro later in 1956 and went on to win 19 more times on the PGA Tour, last in 1972. Sanders remains the only amateur to win the Canadian Open. He was four times the runner-up in a major championship without ever winning a major, most-famously losing a playoff to Jack Nicklaus at the 1970 British Open after missing a short putt for the win on the final hole of regulation.

  • Gene Littler: Won the 1954 San Diego Open by four strokes over second-place Dutch Harrison. Littler was from San Diego, graduated from San Diego State University, then won as an amateur in the San Diego Open. He turned pro later in 1954, won the 1961 U.S. Open, and finished his PGA Tour career with 29 victories.

  • Frank Stranahan: The only amateur on this list who won multiple times before turning pro, Stranahan's wins as an amateur in official PGA Tour tournaments were at the 1945 Durham War Bond Tournament and 1948 Miami Open. (Stranahan won two other pro tournaments in 1946, but the PGA Tour doesn't count those as official wins today.) While still an amateur, Stranahan had three second-place finishes in majors (1947 Masters, 1947 British Open, 1953 British Open). He turned pro in 1954, but had only two more PGA Tour wins.

  • Cary Middlecoff: Won the 1945 North & South Open Championship by five strokes over runner-up Denny Shute. Middlecoff turned pro in 1947 and had a long, great career on the PGA Tour. He won three majors, including two U.S. Opens, and had 39 career tour victories.

  • Fred Haas: Won the 1945 Memphis Invitational by five strokes over runners-up George Low and Bob Cochran. Cochran was also an amateur. This win has other historic implications: Haas' victory ended Byron Nelson's streak of 11 consecutive wins. Nelson finished in fourth place. Haas turned pro in 1946 and won four more times on the PGA Tour, last in 1954.

The PGA Tour's own records on amateur winners go back to 1945, and that's as far back as we've gone in the list above. But know that there were amateur winners on the PGA Tour before 1945, too. One of them still holds the PGA Tour record for youngest winner. And multiple amateurs won major championships prior to the 1940s.

Related article: Amateur winners on the LPGA Tour

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