The USPGA Championship is the third oldest of the four Majors after the Open (1860) and the US Open (1894) and was first contested in 1916 at the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville.
Originally a match play event, the first winner was Jim Barnes, who picked up the princely sum of $500, as well as the vast Wanamaker Trophy, donated by local department store magnate Rodman Wannamaker. Ninety-one years later Tiger Woods picked up $914,039 for his victory at Southern Hills.
The Championship was originally established as a tournament for professional golfers, in a time when amateurs largely dominated the sport.
The tournament flourished after a two-year break during World War I. Winners in the 1920s included such great names as Gene Sarazen (twice) and Walter Hagen (four times). The largest margin of victory in the match play format came in 1938, when American Paul Runyan defeated Sam Snead 8&7. Snead would bounce back to win the tournament three times before it became a stroke play event in 1958, whilst Australian Jim Ferrier was the only non American to win the trophy in that period, in 1947.
The first stroke play winner was Dow Finsterwald of the USA, who prevailed at the Lanerch Country Club in Pennsylvania. The tournament lost none of its prestige, as the leading names in the world of golf continued to dominate. Gary Player triumphed in both 1962 and 1972, whilst Jack Nicklaus won the first of his record equalling five titles at the Dallas Athletic Club in 1963.
The event has been largely dominated by American golfers over the years. The nineties proved to be the most successful decade for foreign players, with 5 titles shared between Nick Price (2), Wayne Grady, Steve Elkington, and Vijay Singh. Tiger Woods won the first of his four titles at the Medinah Country Club in 1999. His play-off victory over Bob May in 2000 saw the two of them jointly shoot the lowest score to par ever in a Major Championship (-18). Woods would equal his own record in 2006.
The PGA Championship is often seen as the least important of the four Majors, but traditionally it has the strongest field. The top 70 players on the US Money list gain automatic entry, as well as members of the most recent US Ryder Cup team. Add to that the rest of the worlds top-100 ranked players and consider that there are no ceremonial or exempt players and you can see why the PGA has always trumped it as golfs strongest field.
The Championship has been contested on some of the finest American courses, including Valhalla, the venue for this years Ryder Cup. The 2008 Championship will be played at the Oakland Hills Country Club for the third time.