1931 PGA Championship: Unheralded Winner, But Still In the Recordbooks

Recap and Scores for the 1931 PGA Championship Golf Tournament

Wanamaker Trophy
1931 PGA Championship winner Tom Creavy earned the Wanamaker Trophy. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The winner of the 1931 PGA Championship is among the more unheralded major champions of the 20th century. But to this day, he ranks among the youngest-ever major winners.

Quick Bits

  • Championship match: Tom Creavy over Denny Shute (match scores below)
  • Dates: Sept. 7-14, 1931
  • Golf course: Wannamoisett Country Club in Rhode Island
  • Tournament number: This was the 14th time the PGA Championship was played.

Notes on the 1931 PGA Championship

Twenty-year-old Tom Creavy defeated Denny Shute to win the 1931 PGA Championship.

Shute went on to greater fame, winning three majors - the 1933 British Open, 1936 PGA Championship and 1937 PGA Championship.

But Creavy's win here was his only one recognized as an official PGA Tour victory. Creavy reached the semifinals in 1932, finished 25th in the first Masters (1934) and posted a Top 10 in the 1934 U.S. Open.

To reach the finals Creavy defeated Jock Collins, Peter O'Hara, Cyril Walker and Gene Sarazen. Shute beat Tony Butler, Jim Foulis, defending champion Tommy Armour and Billy Burke. (Foulis was the nephew of James Foulis, who won the 1896 U.S. Open, the second one ever played.)

Creavy beat Sarazen in the semifinals, and almost beat Sarazen's record as youngest winner of this tournament. When Sarazen won in 1922, he was 20 years and nearly six months old. Creavy was 20 years old, too, for this victory - but he was about three weeks older than Sarazen. Sarazen remains today the recordholder as youngest PGA champion, and Creavy is still the second-youngest to win this event.

So despite Creavy's relative lack of achievement in tour golf outside of this event, Creavy's win here makes him among the very few golfers who've won a men's professional major at age 20 or younger. And he remains, to this day, among the youngest major winners ever.

Creavy led Shute 4-up with six holes to play in the final, but Shute won three of the next four holes to get to 1-down with two to play.

Shute's comeback stopped with a bogey on the 35th hole to lose the hole and the match.

Bobby Jones, as an amateur, never played the PGA Championship. But he did serve as referee in the final match here, following Creavy and Shute and officiating.

1931 PGA Championship Scores

Results from the 1931 PGA Championship golf tournament played at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island. All matches scheduled for 36 holes.

First Round

  • Paul Runyan def. Arthur Gusa, 3 and 2
  • Gene Sarazen def. Al Espinosa, 9 and 8
  • Willie Macfarlane def. Henry Ciuci, 3 and 2
  • Horton Smith def. Walter Bemish, 7 and 6
  • Cyril Walker def. Ed Dudley, 3 and 2
  • Johnny Golden def. Alfred Sargent, 3 and 2
  • Peter O'Hara def. Walter Hagen, 4 and 3
  • Tom Creavy def. Jack Collins, 5 and 4
  • Bob Crowley def. Pat Circelli, 1-up
  • Billy Burke def. Dave Hackney, 5 and 3
  • Abe Espinosa def. Vincent Eldred, 4 and 3
  • Bill Mehlhorn def. Leo Diegel, 3 and 2
  • Denny Shute def. Tony Butler, 1-up (38 holes)
  • Jim Foulis def. Johnny Farrell, 2-up
  • Tommy Armour def. Joe Kirkwood, 2 and 1
  • Walter Murray def. Eddie Schultz, 6 and 5

Second Round

  • Gene Sarazen def. Paul Runyan, 7 and 6
  • Horton Smith def. Willie Macfarlane, 6 and 5
  • Cyril Walker def. Johnny Golden, 5 and 4
  • Tom Creavy def. Peter O'Hara, 2-up
  • Billy Burke def. Bob Crowley, 5 and 4
  • Abe Espinosa def. Bill Mehlhorn, 2 and 1
  • Denny Shute def. Jim Foulis, 2 and 1
  • Tommy Armour def. Walter Murray, 5 and 3

Quarterfinals

  • Tom Creavy def. Cyril Walker, 5 and 3
  • Gene Sarazen def. Horton Smith, 5 and 4
  • Denny Shute def. Tommy Armour, 3 and 1
  • Billy Burke def. Abe Espinosa, 5 and 3

Semifinals

  • Tom Creavy def. Gene Sarazen, 5 and 3
  • Denny Shute def. Billy Burke, 1-up

Championship Match

  • Tom Creavy def. Denny Shute, 2 and 1

1930 PGA Championship | 1932 PGA Championship

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