Greatest Golfers in PGA History

June 12, 2019 by Grant Suneson

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As the greatest golfers in the world tee it up for the 2019 U.S. Open at the world-famous Pebble Beach course in California, they aren’t just chasing a trophy and the $12.5 million purse — they are chasing immortality.

Whoever ends up winning the major title will write their name in the history books. Sometimes, players have the best weekend of their lives and win their only tournament. Yet some especially talented golfers have the skill and experience to win tournament after tournament, and only the greatest can claim numerous major titles.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed PGA Tour and World Golf Hall of Fame data on historical PGA Tour and major championship winners determine the greatest golfers of all time.

For many years, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour victories and Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors seemed untouchable — then along came Tiger Woods. Bursting onto the scene in 1996, Woods put together an unprecedented run of success. Beginning in 2000, he won 12 majors in nine years, making him one of the most successful athletes of the 20th century.

After a series of injuries and personal issues sidelined Woods for years, he returned to his winning ways by capturing the 2019 Masters — his first major in over a decade. Though many golf fans will still argue that Nicklaus is the greatest player of all time, Woods can break his record if he continues to play like he did in Augusta.

Nearly all of the greatest golfers of all time are American. The only exceptions are Fiji’s Vijay Singh, South Africa’s Gary Player, and Scotland’s Tommy Armour. Though golf was invented in Scotland, America’s abundant land for courses means that people all across the country can find a place to tee off and hone their skills from a young age. A nice set of clubs and a course reservation can also be very expensive, prohibiting many people from trying out the sport. This is not a problem for many Americans, as the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Click here to see the greatest golfers of all time.

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25. Harry Cooper
> Major championships: 0
> Total PGA wins: 30
> Year of first win: 1923

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24. Henry Picard
> Major championships: 2
> Total PGA wins: 27
> Year of first win: 1932

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23. Tommy Armour
> Major championships: 3
> Total PGA wins: 25
> Year of first win: 1920

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22. Gene Littler
> Major championships: 1
> Total PGA wins: 29
> Year of first win: 1954

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21. Paul Runyan
> Major championships: 2
> Total PGA wins: 28
> Year of first win: 1930

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20. Leo Diegel
> Major championships: 2
> Total PGA wins: 28
> Year of first win: 1920

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19. Horton Smith
> Major championships: 2
> Total PGA wins: 32
> Year of first win: 1928

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18. Jimmy Demaret
> Major championships: 3
> Total PGA wins: 31
> Year of first win: 1938

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17. Lloyd Mangrum
> Major championships: 1
> Total PGA wins: 36
> Year of first win: 1940

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16. Vijay Singh
> Major championships: 3
> Total PGA wins: 34
> Year of first win: 1993

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15. Lee Trevino
> Major championships: 6
> Total PGA wins: 29
> Year of first win: 1968

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14. Gary Player
> Major championships: 9
> Total PGA wins: 24
> Year of first win: 1958

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13. Cary Middlecoff
> Major championships: 3
> Total PGA wins: 40
> Year of first win: 1945

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12. Gene Sarazen
> Major championships: 7
> Total PGA wins: 39
> Year of first win: 1922

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11. Phil Mickelson
> Major championships: 5
> Total PGA wins: 44
> Year of first win: 1991

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10. Tom Watson
> Major championships: 8
> Total PGA wins: 39
> Year of first win: 1974

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9. Billy Casper
> Major championships: 3
> Total PGA wins: 51
> Year of first win: 1956

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8. Byron Nelson
> Major championships: 5
> Total PGA wins: 52
> Year of first win: 1935

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7. Harry Vardon
> Major championships: 7
> Total PGA wins: 49
> Year of first win: 1896

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6. Walter Hagen
> Major championships: 11
> Total PGA wins: 45
> Year of first win: 1914

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5. Arnold Palmer
> Major championships: 7
> Total PGA wins: 62
> Year of first win: 1955

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4. Ben Hogan
> Major championships: 9
> Total PGA wins: 64
> Year of first win: 1938

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3. Sam Snead
> Major championships: 7
> Total PGA wins: 82
> Year of first win: 1936

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2. Jack Nicklaus
> Major championships: 18
> Total PGA wins: 73
> Year of first win: 1962

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1. Tiger Woods
> Major championships: 15
> Total PGA wins: 81
> Year of first win: 1996