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The complete list of amateur winners on tour

The complete list of amateur winners on tour

Join us as we run through every rare occasion when an amateur has won on the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the LPGA Tour

 

Winning as an amateur on one of golf’s biggest tours is one of the rarest feats in the sport.

Not counting the major championships – which brought its fair share of amateur victors in the early years – there have only been seven occasions on the PGA Tour alone when an amateur has won an event, with the accomplishment occurring even less on the European Tour/DP World Tour and LPGA Tour.

So which players have achieved the feat? Keep scrolling to see the full breakdown of every occasion an amateur has won on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and LPGA Tour…

Amateur winners on the PGA Tour

It’s now been over three decades since an amateur last won on the PGA Tour, an accomplishment which dates back to 1991 when a 20-year-old Phil Mickelson – still a junior at Arizona State University – birdied two of his last three holes to land the Northern Telecom Open.

The win was the first of Lefty’s 44 PGA Tour titles, with Mickelson turning professional one year later in June 1992 after graduating from ASU.

Since PGA Tour records began in 1945 after World War II, there have been only seven occasions when an amateur has won on the circuit.

After a string of successes by Frank Stranahan in the 1940s – who won four tournaments in three years as an amateur between 1945 and 1948 – no golfer was able to achieve the feat in the 1960s or 1970s.

Scott Verplank then broke the trend just before Mickelson in 1985 when he won the Western Open.

This left a 33-year gap until 20-year-old Nick Dunlap secured a gutsy victory at The American Express at the start of the 2024 season, becoming the youngest player to win on tour after World War Two since Jordan Spieth

Here’s the full rundown of amateur winners on the PGA Tour…

Cary Middlecoff (1945 North and South Open)
Fred Haas (1945 Memphis Invitational)
Frank Stranahan (1945 Durham War Bond Tournament)
Frank Stranahan (1946 Kansas City Invitational)
Frank Stranahan (1946 Fort Worth Invitational)
Frank Stranahan (1948 Miami Open)
Gene Littler (1954 San Diego Open)
Doug Sanders (1956 Canadian Open)
Scott Verplank (1985 Western Open)
Phil Mickelson (1991 Northern Telecom Open)
Nick Dunlap (2024 American Express)

Amateur winners on the DP World Tour

Although the European Tour was inaugurated in 1972, it took 35 years for an amateur to land a win on the circuit.

Pablo Martin Benavides was the first amateur to win at just 20 years old, chipping in on the final hole at the Estoril Open de Portugal to claim a dramatic victory in Lisbon.

Two years later, a young Shane Lowry announced himself to the golfing world when he defeated Robert Rock in a three-hole playoff at the Irish Open, much to the joy of all his home fans in attendance.

It was quite the start to Lowry’s now coveted career, except there was one unfortunate aspect to the victory, as it provided an answer to the question: Can an amateur golfer win money?

Per the rules of professional golf, which prohibits amateurs from cashing in on any winnings above $1,000, the Irishman was unable to claim the €500,000 cash prize, meaning Rock’s woes were softened as he walked away with the 1st place check.

Here’s the full rundown of amateur winners on the European Tour …

Pablo Martin Benavides (2007 Estoril Open de Portugal)
Danny Lee (2009 Johnnie Walker Classic)
Shane Lowry (2009 Irish Open)

Amateur winners on the LPGA Tour

Over in the women’s game, the very first official LPGA Tour event was won by an amateur, Polly Riley, in 1930. Amateurs were then largely successful in what is now considered the majors of the time, although it was a lot less common after the 1960s.

After four decades without an amateur victor on the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko then burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old teenage sensation, landing back-to-back Canadian Opens in 2012 and 2013 respectively before turning professional.

Just like with Lowry, however, Ko’s $300,000 winner’s check went to Inbee Park and Karine Icher respectively.

Here’s the full rundown of amateur winners on the LPGA…

Polly Riley (1950 Tampa Open)
Pat O’Sullivan (1951 Titleholders Championship)
Catherine Lacoste (1967 US Women’s Open)
JoAnne Carner (1969 Burdine’s Invitational)
Lydia Ko (2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open)
Lydia Ko (2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open)

Amateur winners on the PGA Tour

You can also read up about all the amateurs to ever win a major championship, from Bobby Jones to Pat O’Sullivan, right here.

Which of these amateur golf wins do you remember the best? Which amateur will be next to win on tour? Could we see another teenage sensation arise? Let us know your thoughts on X/Twitter.

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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