Tiger Woods made golfing headlines in 2000 when his consecutive tournament winning streak reached six. But that remarkable feat put him just beyond halfway toward golf’s all-time record for consecutive tournament victories, a mark set by a legendary golfer in a completely different era.
Texas native Byron Nelson set the record for most consecutive tournament victories when he won 11 straight in 1945. Many, including Woods, have likened Nelson’s mark to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, which occurred four years before Nelson established his record. Nelson’s streak began with the Miami Four Ball in March, ran through the Canadian Open in August and included the PGA Championship. Nelson finished the year with 18 victories and seven second-place finishes.
Fifty years later, Nelson told the Chicago Tribune that his streak didn’t begin receiving major attention until its midpoint. When he played a tournament in Chicago during the streak, however, he said the attention for winning seven straight events “was beginning to wear on me,” and he hoped he’d play poorly to “get the thing over with.” He didn’t, and the streak continued for three more tournaments after he won in Chicago. "I guess what they call it now is being in a zone," Nelson said in 1995. "Then, I just felt a good rhythm and I was making the kind of swings that were repeatable."
Before retiring at age 34, Nelson won 52 tournaments, including five major championships between 1937 and 1945. Nelson turned pro in 1932 at age 20. His best years were 1944 and 1945, during which he won 31 tournaments. He never finished out of the top 10 in 1945. He was voted the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1944 and 1945. Nelson was elected to the PGA Golf Hall of Fame in 1953 and to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. He died in 2006.
The LPGA record for consecutive victories in tournaments played is five. It is shared by Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam.
Lopez won five tournaments in a row in May through June of 1978. Sorenstam won the last two tournaments she played in 2004, then gained victories in the first three tournaments in which she participated in 2005. Both golfers skipped some tournaments during their respective streaks.
Four women have won four consecutive tournaments without skipping any events. Mickey Wright, the first, did so twice -- once in 1962 and once in 1963. Kathy Whitworth won four tournaments in a row in 1969, Sorenstam followed in 2001, then Lorena Ochoa won four in a row in 2008.