The organisation that became the present-day PGA Tour was founded, as the ‘Tournament Players’ Division’ of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America in 1968 and, over the last seven decades, just six men have recorded a score of 30 or more strokes under par in a 72-hole tournament. Interestingly, all six did so since the turn of the 21st century and five did so on the same course in the same tournament.
The professional golfer who has recorded the most strokes under par in a 72-hole tournament is 2022 Open champion Cameron Smith. Prior to winning his first major championship, the Australian had already shot 65, 64, 64, 65 on the 7,596-yard, par-73 Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort on Maui, Hawaii the previous January to win the year-opening Tournament of Champions with a record-breaking 34-under-par total of 258.
The Tournament of Champions has been played on the Plantation Course since 1999 and, nowadays, players qualify by winning a tournament on the PGA Tour the previous year or finishing in the top 30 in the final FedeExCup standings and, thereby, qualifying for the Tour Championship.As such, the Tournament of Champions features a small, select field. In 2021, for example, a record 42 players teed it up at the Kapalua Resort, but eight of them were in the top 10 globally, according to Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
The competitive nature of the event and, of course, benign scoring conditions may account for the regularly low scoring. The 2003 winner, Ernie Els, shot 64, 65, 65, 67 for a 31-under-par total of 261, whileJohn Rahm and Matt Jones, second and third behind Cameron Smith, shot 33 and 32 under par, respectively.