How Many LIV Players Have Won The PGA Championship?

Eligible LIV Golf players will compete in the 2023 PGA Championship, and among them are some former winners

Phil Mickelson with the trophy after his win in the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club
Phil Mickelson claimed the first of two wins in the tournament in 2005
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After the emergence of LIV Golf, there had been some doubt as to whether its players would be eligible for the second Major of 2023, the PGA Championship.

That all changed in February when the PGA of America confirmed they would be allowed to play in this year’s tournament. 

That means the likes of Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and the man who missed out on the title in heartbreaking circumstances last year, Mito Pereira, can all tee it up at Oak Hill Country Club thanks to various qualifying criteria.

One of those ways to qualify is as a former champion, and three LIV Golf players fall into that category. Here are the stories on how they claimed the Wanamaker Trophy.

Phil Mickelson – 2005 and 2021

Phil Mickelson celebrates after winning the 2021 PGA Championship in South Carolina

Phil Mickelson became the oldest Major winner in history when he won the PGA Championship aged 50

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mickelson is one of two LIV Golf players who has won the PGA Championship twice. He first lifted the Wanamaker Trophy at New Jersey’s Baltusrol Golf Club in 2005.

No fewer than 27 players were within two shots of the lead after the opening round, with Mickelson one of six at the top following a three under 67. However, following the second round, the direction of travel became clearer. Mickelson impressed again, this time with a 65 to lead by three shots over Jerry Kelly going into the weekend.

Throughout the tournament, Davis Love III had been a model of consistency. His third successive round of 68 drew him level with Mickelson going into the final round after Lefty struggled on Moving Day. Thomas Bjorn, meanwhile, matched the record of 63 for the tournament to go into the final round just one behind the leaders.

After a rain-delayed final round, play resumed on Monday, where Mickelson completed his second successive round of 72 with a birdie putt on the 18th to edge out Bjorn and Steve Elkington and claim his second Major title.

It would be 16 years until Mickelson won the trophy again. This time, the location was Kiawah Island in South Carolina. After an opening round of 70 left Mickelson three shots off leader Corey Conners, he made five birdies over the last nine holes during the second round to tie the lead with Louis Oosthuizen. By the end of Saturday, he had the outright lead, albeit by just one shot despite holding a commanding five-shot lead earlier in the round.

The final round saw Mickelson jostle with Brooks Koepka for the title before he eventually emerged the winner by one shot, making him the oldest Major champion in history, aged 50.

Martin Kaymer – 2010

Martin Kaymer celebrates with his caddie after winning the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits

Martin Kaymer's sole Major win to date came in 2010

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Five years after Mickelson’s first win, German Martin Kaymer claimed his maiden Major title at Whistling Straits. After an opening round of 72 left Kaymer five off the lead, he improved on Friday with a 68 that left him four shots adrift.

Kaymer maintained his bid for the title on Saturday when an impressive five under 67 kept him to within four shots of overnight leader Nick Watney. Kaymer then took advantage of a somewhat chaotic final round, which saw the lead held by seven players at various stages. Indeed, Watney fell out of the reckoning entirely following a disastrous nine over 81.

In contrast, Kaymer held his nerve to share the clubhouse lead with Bubba Watson. Rory McIlroy nearly joined them but missed a 15-foot putt for birdie, while Dustin Johnson came even closer. His bogey on the final hole appeared to secure him a playoff, but he was deemed to have “grounded his club” in a bunker near the 18th and suffered a two-shot penalty.

Kaymer and Watson returned for the three-hole playoff. After falling one behind following the first, Kaymer drew level with a birdie on the second playoff hole before closing out the win after Watson bogeyed the par 4 that followed.

Brooks Koepka – 2018 and 2019

Brooks Koepka with the trophy after winning the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club

Brooks Koepka has claimed the Wanamaker Trophy twice

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bellerive Country Club in Missouri was the venue as Koepka won his third Major. After an opening round of 69 left him five off the lead, he made significant inroads on Friday, sharing a joint-record round of 63 with Charl Schwartzel to leave him third behind Kevin Kisner and Gary Woodland.

Koepka’s bid to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 to win the US Open and PGA Championship in the same year seemed even more likely after Saturday when a 66 gave him a two-shot lead over Adam Scott. He repeated the score on Sunday to see him hold off the charging Woods, whose 64 wasn’t quite enough.

In 2019, Koepka claimed his fourth and most recent Major title to date at Bethpage Black. This time, he got off to a fast start and led by a shot after his opening round course record of 63. By the end of Friday, that lead had stretched to an already ominous-looking seven following another excellent round, this time of 65, with Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth the nearest challengers. Koepka maintained that advantage in the third round with a 70, but there was some drama to come.

In the final round, the leader bogeyed five of his last eight holes. Dustin Johnson even got within a shot of him with three to play, but Koepka held on to win by two after Johnson had a wobble of his own with bogeys at 16 and 17.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.