Youngest Golfers to Play in a PGA Tour Tournament

PGA Tour Records: Golfers Younger Than 15 in Tour Event

Sony Open
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The youngest golfer to play in a PGA Tour tournament was not even 12 years old yet when he set the record. Not surprisingly, he didn't post good scores. Here's a look at that record-setting golfer, plus the other people who've played in a PGA Tour tournament before turning age 15.

The Youngest PGA Tour Player: 11-Year-Old Don Dunkelberger

Don Dunkelberger was 11 years, 11 months and 10 days old when he teed off in the first round of the 1937 Chicago Open. And after shooting 103 in that first round, Dunkelberger withdrew from the tournament.

Dunkelberger was joined in that tournament by 14-year-old Marshall "Moe" Springer. (Dunkelberger and Springer became the two youngest PGA Tour players to that point in golf history, and still hold two of the top three spots on the list below of the youngest golfers.)

Babe Zaharias also played that Chicago Open. And for good measure, the "Masked Marvel" was in the field. Say what? The Masked Marvel was "a real-life version of the comic book character," according to Chicago Golf Magazine. In reality, it was Claude Harmon in costume. Yes, that Claude Harmon - Claude Harmon Sr., patriarch of the Harmon golf instruction family and winner of the 1948 Masters.

The 1937 Chicago Open sounds like it was trying really hard to put on a show with these various invitations. Dunkelberger, by the way, grew up to be a golf pro and played in the 1950 U.S. Open, missing the cut.

The List: Youngest Golfers to Play on the PGA Tour

In PGA Tour history, there are 11 instances of a golfer playing in a tournament before reaching the age of 15. Seven golfers account for those 11 appearances. Here is the list of youngest golfers ever to play in a PGA Tour event:

  • 11 years, 11 months, 10 days: Don Dunkelberger, 1937 Chicago Open
  • 14 years, 2 months, 29 days: Michelle Wie, 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii
  • 14 years, 5 months, 11 days: Marshall Springer, 1937 Chicago Open
  • 14 years, 5 months, 17 days: Guan Tianlang, 2013 Masters Tournament
  • 14 years, 6 months: Andy Zhang, 2012 U.S. Open
  • 14 years, 6 months: Guan Tianlang, 2013 Zurich Classic
  • 14 years, 6 months 20 days: Guan Tianlang, 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship
  • 14 years, 7 months, 5 days: Guan Tianlang, 2013 Memorial Tournament
  • 14 years, 7 months, 24 days: Lorens Chan, 2009 Sony Open in Hawaii
  • 14 years, 8 months, Marshall Springer, 1937 Western Open
  • 14 years, 9 months, 7 days: George Burtoft, 1937 Utah Open

How Those Youngest PGA Tour Golfers Fared

Until Guan Tianlang came along, Michelle Wie had fared best among the golfers on this list, missing the cut by only one stroke at the 2014 Sony Open. Wie shot 72-68.

But then, at the 2013 Masters, Guan did make the cut. Guan shot 73-75-77-75 and finished in 58th place. Guan also made the cut at the Zurich Classic listed above, finishing 71st with scores of 72-69-77-74.

Springer had scores in the 80s and 90s in his two appearances on the list. Burtoft played all four rounds of the 1937 Utah Open, but it was a no-cut event and his scores were 88-91-80-93.

Zhang shot 79-78 at the 2012 U.S. Open and Chan 72-75 at the 2009 Sony Open.