With the world’s best golfers set to tee-off in the next Major of the year at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, let’s revisit golf history and take a look at the ten best golfers in the PGA Tour’s history.

Golf 1.Jack Nicklaus

The greatest of all-time is a class of his own in the Majors. Jack Nicklaus owns the record for most Majors won at 18 and he was runner-up 19 times in the Majors. Nicklaus won each Major at least three times during his legendary career and finished in the Top 2 of each Major at least eight times. During his peak from 1971-1977, Nicklaus placed in the Top 5 in 23 out of 28 Majors while winning six of them. His career Top-10 finish rate in the Majors was a remarkable 44.5%. Nicklaus had 73 total PGA Tour wins and had 73 Top 10 finishes, including 56 in the Top 5.

Golf 2.Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods ranks 2nd all-time in most PGA Tour wins with 81. Of course we know the latest of those is the 2018 Masters in Augusta, his first win since 2008. Last year, Woods also won the Tour Championship to complete an incredible comeback from being an unranked golfer to the #6 spot today. Throughout the first decade of the 2000 century, he was golf’s most dominant force, holding the #1 position for 264 weeks from August 1999 to September 2004 and another 281 weeks from June 2005 to October 2010. Woods has won a record 11 PGA Player of the Year awards and a total of 15 Majors, just three behind the record 18 of Jack Nicklaus. Woods is entered in the 2019 PGA Championship this week as the golf betting favorite.

Golf 3. Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan dominated the PGA Tour from 1946-1953, winning a total of 64 times in the PGA Tour  despite suffering a near-fatal car accident that caused him to miss the entire 1949 season. He won a personal-best 13 tournaments in 1946, including his first Major. From 1946-1948, Hogan won a total of 30 tournaments, including the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 1948. He was also PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1953. Hogan had a stretch where he won 8 out of 11 Majors and finished in the Top 7 in the three he didn’t win. What made that impressive was that he didn’t play every year in the British Open and PGA Championship, meaning those eight wins were stretched over a period of six years. In 1953, he won the U.S. Open, The Masters and The British Open- the only time he entered the tournament.

Golf 4. Walter Hagen

Walter Hagen is one of only three golfers to win at least 11 Majors. The other two are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. But because Hagen played long before both, he is often a forgotten man in Top-10 lists. Not on our list. Hagen won a total of 45 PGA Tour victories, including 10 majors. He never won the Masters because by the time it was established in 1934, Hagen was way past his prime already. There were only 34 Majors held from 1914 to 1929 because of World War I and Hagen won 11 of them. He is also considered as one of the best match-play golfers of all-time after winning the PGA Championship in four consecutive years from 1924-1927 at a time when the tournament was still a match-play event.

Golf 5. Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones only had 9 PGA Tour wins but seven of those were Majors. As an amateur, Bobby Jones was not allowed to compete in the PGA Championship. Instead, he played in the British Amateur and U.S. Amateur which were considered among the Majors back then. Jones won one British Amateur and five U.S. Amateur tournaments which give him a total of six unofficial Majors. Add that to his official Majors total of seven and that would have been 13 Majors won. And he did so during a very short career. Jones retired at the age of 28, winning all his 13 “Majors” in a span of eight years. In 1930, he won the British Amateur, British Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open to become the only golfer to win the pre-Masters Grand Slam in a single calendar year.

Golf 6. Sam Snead

Sam Snead won “only” seven Majors but he is the all-time leader in PGA tour events won at 82. One of the reasons why Snead didn’t win as many Majors was the fact that he played in just five British Opens during his career. Also World War II forced the cancellation of 14 majors from 1940 to 1945, thus lessening Snead’s opportunities to win more as well. Snead also never won the U.S. Open, placing in the Top 10 twelve times, including runner-up four times. He won 11 PGA events in 1950 and remains as the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event when he won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at the age of 52 years, 10 months and eight days.

Golf 7. Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer won a total of 62 PGA tournaments in a span of two decades, including seven Majors from 1958 to 1964. Four of those victories were in Augusta, and only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have at least equalled that number. The King won at least six events per year from 1960 to 1963 and totalled 29 during that four year period. Neither Jack nor Tiger have won more than six tournaments per year during any four-year span. From 1960 to 1968, he had one second place finish in a Major and 10 overall during his career. Had he won those tournaments, Palmer would’ve surely won the Grand Slam.

Golf 8. Byron Nelson

Byron Nelson won a total of 54 PGA Tour events. Half of those were won during the war period from 1944-1945. In 1945, he won a record of 18 PGA Tour events, including an impressive 11 in a row. Unfortunately for Lord Byron, the only Majors held during those years were the 1944 and 1945 PGA Championship. He won in 1945 and finished second in 1944. Nelson retired from golf at the age of 34 in 1946 but he continued to play well in the Masters until the age of 40. Nelson won two Masters in 1937 and 1942 but he finished in the Top 8 in all 12 of his Masters appearances. From 1937-1951, he finished in the Top 8 or better in 26 out of 29 Major tournaments started.

Golf 9. Tom Watson

Tom Watson dominated the British Open like no other. He won that Major five times in a span of nine years from 1975-1983 and was T-2 in 1984. At the age of 59, he forced a playoff and finished second in the 2009 British Open. Jack Nicklaus and Peter Thompson are the only golfers other than Watson since 1930 to win a Major at least five times. But Watson wasn’t just a British Open specialist. He also won two Masters and one U.S. Open title while having at least 10 Top-10 finishes in each major. Only he and Jack Nicklaus have ever done that. 33 of his 39 PGA Tour wins came from 1977 to 1984. He was named PGA Tour Player of the Year in six of those years.

Golf 10. Gary Player

Gary Player won a golf tournament in every continent except Antarctica. He’s won 63 events in South Africa and has been credited with a total of 165 victories on different tours in different countries in a career spanning from 1955-2015. Player won a total of nine Majors but more impressive than that is that he won a Major at age 23 and another at the age of 42. He is one of only five men to achieve the career grand slam and he did it in his first four Major tournament victories. Overall, he had 24 PGA tour victories, however since 9 of those are Majors, he deserves a spot in our Top 10.

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