Major championships in the game of golf are the most vaunted accolades coveted by golf professionals. They are also the highest paying tournaments for winners. The four majors are:
The Masters, The U.S. Open, the Open Championship (also known as the British Open) and the PGA Championship.
This article will delve into which players performed the best in these championships, who has the record for most majors in golf and discuss the different tournaments.
No.1 Jack Nicklaus: 18
The “Golden Bear” tops the list of all-time major golf winners. Nicklaus has the most major wins of any golf professional in the history of the sport. There are many debates on whether he or Tiger Woods is the greatest player of all time.
Nicklaus won six Masters titles in the following years: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
He has five PGA Championship victories in the years: 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980
The legend has four U.S. open victories won in: 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980
He also won three Open Championship in: 1966, 1970, 1978
The now 82-year-old won majors in three different decades against some of the greatest golfers to play the game including Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Greg Norman.
Now, Nicklaus participates in many business ventures including designing golf courses, owning his own brand called Golden Bear and hosting his own tournament in Ohio: the Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
📢 Need To Know: The 1986 Masters is probably Nicklaus’ most memorable major victory due to him winning it at 46 years old and not having won a major in six years.
No. 2 Tiger Woods: 15
Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods is at the pinnacle of the golf world like Jack Nicklaus. He inspired countless golfers to try out the game including many pros currently on tour.
Masters Tournament five wins: 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019
U.S. Open three wins: 2000, 2002, 2008
The Open Championship three wins: 2000, 2005, 2006
PGA Championship four wins: 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007
Around Augusta National, where the Masters is played, there is something called a “Tiger Roar”. It’s when you can hear the cheers and yells from another hole or across the course. The roars are so loud and distinct you know Tiger made a birdie or eagle.
Similar to Jack Nicklaus, with a drought in majors between victories, Tiger’s 2019 Masters win, his 15th major, is one of the highlights of his career. It is considered even more dramatic with 11 years between major wins and him having endured back surgeries as well.
That win is considered to be the best win in golf history by a number of pundits and many believe in all of sport as a whole.
His 15-shot victory at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and 12-shot winning margin at the 1997 Masters are also great moments in his major career due to the dominance he portrayed.
Another fantastic win was in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines where he defeated Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff with an injured back.
No. 3 Walter Hagen: 11
Walter Hagen was one of the first heroes in the game of golf. He won his 11 majors from 1914-1929 and helped spread the popularity of the game.
U.S. Open two wins: 1914, 1919
The Open Championship four wins: 1922, 1924, 1928, 1929
PGA Championship five wins: 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927
One of his most impressive feats was his four-straight PGA Championship wins from 1924-1927.
Hagen was born in 1892 in Rochester, New York and passed away at 76 in 1969 in Traverse City, Michigan.
Hagen never won the Masters but many believe he would have had the tournament started sooner. The first Masters was played in 1934 when he was past his prime.
There is an apparel company named after him.
📢 Need To Know: Hagen was the first player born in the United States to win the Open Championship. He was known for his fancy attire on the course and played against Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen.
T4: Ben Hogan and Gary Player: 9
Ben Hogan is a staple in golf history. The former Fort Worth native dominated the game for nearly a decade from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, capturing nine major championships.
U.S. Open four wins: 1948, 1950, 1951, 1953
Masters Tournament two wins: 1951, 1953
PGA Championship two wins: 1946, 1948
The Open Championship one win: 1953
Hogan is synonymous with Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth because the founder of the course, Marvin Leonard, took him under his wing after his father passed when he was young.
Hogan went on to win PGA Tour events at Colonial five times.
His legacy lives on at the tournament site where there is a statue of him. There is also a golf apparel and equipment company named after him.
Gary Player’s nine major championships are part of his impressive collection of 160 worldwide wins.
Player was known for being an extremely accurate player and for standing shorter than most players at 5-feet-6 inches. The South African is one of the first names many people think of when they discuss the greatest players in Golf History.
Player is one of five players to have won the Career Grand Slam which includes winning all four major titles.
Masters Tournament three wins: 1961, 1974, 1978
The Open Championship three wins: 1959, 1968, 1974
PGA Championship two wins: 1962, 1972
U.S. Open one win: 1965
6. Tom Watson: 8
Tom Watson is one of the famous American golfers known for dominating across the pond at The Open Championship with his five wins there.
The Open Championship five wins: 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983
Masters Tournament two wins: 1977, 1981
U.S. Open one win: 1982
One of Watson’s most illustrious wins was when he beat Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke at the 1977 Open Championship at Turnberry.
One of Watson’s extremely memorable tournaments came again at The Open when he narrowly lost. In 2009, 32 years later at Turnberry, the Kansas City, Missouri native lost in a four-hole playoff to fellow American Stewart Cink.
If he’d have won at the age of 59, he would’ve been tied with Harry Vardon for the most Open Championship wins in golf history.
T7 Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead and Harry Vardon: 7
Masters Tournament four wins: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964
The Open Championship two wins: 1961, 1962
U.S. Open one win: 1960
PGA Championship three wins: 1922, 1923, 1933
U.S. Open two wins: 1922, 1932
Masters Tournament one win: 1935
The Open Championship one win: 1932
U.S. Open four wins: 1923, 1926, 1929, 1930
The Open Championship three wins: 1926, 1927, 1930
Masters Tournament three wins: 1949, 1952, 1954
PGA Championship three wins: 1942, 1949, 1951
The Open Championship one win: 1946
The Open Championship six wins: 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914
U.S. Open one win: 1900
The iconic Arnold Palmer, who was known for many things including being a humanitarian, pilot, a flashy style, a class act, a businessman and one of the greatest golfers to ever live is synonymous with the game of golf.
His fans were known as Arnie’s Army and Palmer has a tournament held every year in his honor at Bay Hill: the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Gene Sarazen has also won the Career Grand Slam. He was nicknamed “the squire” because he didn’t have much faith in his golf career so he bought a farm, but it ultimately turned out more than alright.
Sarazen is also known for his idea of inventing the modern wedge with a steel shaft.
Bobby Jones is a player who etched his name into the golf history books for many reasons aside from him winning seven majors.
Jones was an amateur golfer when he won all of his major championships and was a professional lawyer.
He won the “pre-Masters” grand slam in 1930 winning the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur, The Open Championship and U.S. Open all in the calendar year. He is the only golfer in history to earn that feat.
In 1933, the Atlanta native founded Augusta National Golf Club and helped design the course. He went on to be a co-creator of the Masters Tournament.
Jones retired at the age of 28 from golf and went into the movie business. He later unretired and did play in the Masters but never won.
Sam Snead’s seven majors are impressive, but what is also inspiring is that he was the first golfer to reach 82 wins on the PGA Tour. He is currently at the top of the list tied with Tiger Woods.
Harry Vardon won six Open Championships which are the most of all-time.
T12 Phil Mickelson, Lee Trevino and Nick Faldo: 6
Masters Tournament three wins: 2004, 2006, 2010
PGA Championship two wins: 2005, 2021
The Open Championship one win: 2013
U.S. Open two wins: 1968, 1971
The Open Championship two wins: 1971, 1972
PGA Championship two wins: 1974, 1984
Masters Tournament three wins: 1989, 1990, 1996
The Open Championship three wins: 1987, 1990, 1992
Phil Mickelson’s major wins have been dramatic with his 2021 PGA Championship triumph over Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka being arguably the most. This victory made him the oldest golfer to ever win a major at 50 years old 11 months and 7 days.
Mickelson didn’t win a major for the first 12 years of his career until the 2004 Masters at the age of 34.
“Lefty” is known for his insane short game skills, his ability to “hit bombs” in his 50s, the jokes he makes on the course and his dramatic weight loss journey.
The Arizona State product has come close many times to winning the grand slam due to his six second place finishes at the U.S. Open.
Mickelson has surprisingly never been ranked No. 1 in the world due to his prime being at the same time as Tiger Woods’. He owns the record for most weeks being ranked No. 2 in the official golf rankings.
Mexican-American golfer Lee Trevino is one of the most loved golfers by many fans. Often chatty on the course, the 5-foot-7 Texan won every major twice except for the Masters where his best finish was a tie for 10th.
The now 82-year-old, boycotted The Masters three times due to a strained relationship with Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts.
Trevino was struck by lightning during three occasions on the golf course and survived. One of his most famous quotes is:
“If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.”
Nick Faldo made himself the greatest English player of his generation after winning three Masters and three Open Championships.
Faldo came close to winning the grand slam due to finishing second at the 1988 U.S. Open and T2 at the 1992 PGA Championship.
His win at the 1996 Masters is often remembered for Greg Norman collapsing and blowing his lead during the final round of the tournament.
Faldo’s final round 67 vaulted him to finish 12-under for the tournament, five strokes ahead of Norman and six ahead of a young Phil Mickelson.
📢 Need To Know: Nick Faldo is currently a golf commentator for CBS.
Other notable golfers who have won five majors and are T15 on the all-time major wins list are:
Seve Ballesteros (Spain)
Byron Nelson (USA)
John Henry Taylor (England)
James Braid (Scotland)
Peter Thomson (Australia)
Has anyone won all 4 golf majors in one year?
Bobby Jones won the pre-Masters Career Grand Slam winning the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur, The Open Championship and U.S. Open all in the same year of 1930.
Tiger Woods did not complete this feat but he won four majors consecutively within 365 days starting with the 2000 U.S. Open, 2000 Open Championship, 2000 PGA Championship and 2001 Masters.
Who Has Completed A Career Grand Slam?
Only five golfers in the history of golf have completed the Career Grand Slam by winning all four major championships.
Players who have won 3-of-4 majors:
Phil Mickelson (Needs U.S. Open)
Rory McIlroy (Needs Masters)
Jordan Spieth (Needs PGA Championship)
Did Tiger Woods win 4 majors in a row?
Yes, Tiger Woods won 4 major golf championships in a row between 2000 and 2001, which is known as the “Tiger Slam”. He won the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, the PGA Championship, and the Masters Tournament in that order, becoming the first golfer to achieve the feat.
Has anyone ever won all 4 golf majors in one year?
Yes, Bobby Jones, an American golfer, has won all four major championships in the same calendar year. He achieved this feat in 1930, winning the U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur, and British Amateur. This accomplishment is known as the “Grand Slam” of golf and is one of the greatest achievements in the sport.