Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters at age 46.
Julius Boros won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48 years, four months and 18 days old. Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters at 46 years, two months and 23 days old. They are the oldest examples that players over 40 are still very capable of winning major championships.
Ernie Els won last year’s Open Championship at 42 years, 7 months and 22 days of age.
Who else of today’s aging stars still has what it takes to win on one of golf’s biggest stages?
Here’s a list of 10 possibilities.
Ernie Els is very capable of winning another major title.
Since 43-year-old Ernie Els is the most recent major winner of the older-than-40 set, he becomes the most likely to do it again.
He’s finished in the top 10 of two of the last three U.S. Opens and four of the last seven Open Championships.
When he won the Open last year at age 42, he became only the sixth player in history to win two U.S. Opens and two Open Championships.
His game is back to a high level and he seems to be enjoying the game again.
Keeping these moments to a minimum is a key to Phil Mickelson winning another major.
Phil Mickelson has won four major championships: three Masters and a PGA. Right away he has to be labeled as a factor at Augusta at least for a few more years.
He has three top-10 finishes in his last five appearances there.
The big left-hander is still plenty long. While he’s also wildly unpredictable if he can get his driver in play, his vaunted short game will make up for a lot.
David Toms has a golf swing that keeps the ball in play.
David Toms was fourth in the U.S. Open last year and tied for fourth in the PGA Championship in 2011. Does that mean there’s a career revival in progress for Toms?
He registered five top-10 finishes last year. Even though he’s not the longest hitter by far (averaging around 275 yards off the tee), he’s among the straightest, and that’s always a plus in majors.
Miguel Jimenez knows about winning and still good enough to win a major.
If 49-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez can just stay off the ski slopes, the Mechanic can still play the game. Admittedly, he’d have to pick up his game a bit to win a major, because he doesn’t have much of a pedigree in those events.
He finished in a tie for ninth in the 2012 in the Open Championship and in a tie for third in 1992 in the same event.
Jimenez finished second in the U.S. Open in 2000, but in 55 major championship starts his best stat is eight top-10 finishes.
An October skiing accident sidelined him for three months, but he’s a strong man.
Retief Goosen has struggled with injuries but has two majors to his credit.
There was a time when no one putted better than Retief Goosen.
He’s a two-time U.S. Open champion. In his second Open triumph, Goosen had 11 one-putt greens on Sunday and 31 for the tournament on Southern Hills’ baked-out and tricky greens.
He’s been troubled by toe and hand injuries in the last few years, and it’s been tough going.
But when a guy can putt like Goosen, he’s always dangerous.
Steve Stricker is still a viable threat to win a major.
At age 44, Steve Stricker said before the 2013 season that he was going to cut his schedule back considerably so he could spend more time at home with his family.
Thus far that plan has worked out well, as Stricker has had three top-10 finishes and a pair of seconds.
His game is at a much higher level than Goosen’s and his putting is close to what made him one of the two or three best putters in the game for a while.
Stricker is still searching his first major title.
Robert Karlsson can play the power game with the PGA Tour's big boys.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson is 42.
He had a big season on the PGA Tour in 2011, recording three top-10 finishes. He’s also won two events on the European Tour since turning 40.
He’s always been a power player and can still get it out there close to 300 yards off the tee. Putting the rest of his game together can happen at any time, and if it does during a major week, Karlsson could bag a major.
Vijay Singh still has the game to win a major.
Vijay Singh finished in a tie for ninth in last year’s Open Championship, the first time he’s been in the top 10 in a major since 2006.
He’s had good years the past two years but has started off slowly in 2013, in part due to the deer antler spray controversy that still remains unresolved.
Singh has a Masters title, as well as two PGA Championships.
As he’s gotten older, his consistency has waned. But stranger things have happened in the game.
No, he's not yawning. Freddie Couples is plenty motivated to win another major.
He’s the oldest member of this group, but he still has a whole golf cart full of talent.
Yes, he’s 52 and has been plagued by back issues all through his career.
He won the 1992 Masters, and has finished in the top 15 there the past three years. That’s the only major he’s eligible to play in and he loves playing at Augusta National Golf Club.
Is he a long shot?
Sure, but what kind of chance did you give Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel or Trevor Immelman?
Jim Furyk still has the tools to win a major.
Jim Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympic Fields.
That was a long time ago. But he was in position to win that same tournament in 2007 at Oakmont Country Club and again last year at the Olympic Club.
The fact that the 42-year-old didn’t finish either of those opportunities and that he had such a traumatic meltdown at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational raises a red flag or two about whether he still can win a major.
I’m saying, don’t bet against it happening.