The Top 10 Golfers of the ‘70s
Every decade has its best players. Those who rise above the rest of the pack, achieve greatness from time to time, refuse to back down when a title is on the line. In the 1970s, the first decade of the modern PGA Tour, there were ten who consistently were above the others. However, there were four who dominated with 93 victories and 18 majors between them.
10. Billy Casper, winner of 51 tournaments, three majors and member of several Ryder cup teams won eight times in the 1970s, including the 1970 Masters. His last victory was in 1975 at the Forst NBC New Orleans Open.
9. Tom Weiskopf, who had one of the most classic swings and also one of the hottest tempers in the sport, though not nearly the level of Tommy Bolt, won 11 times in the 1970s, including the 1973 British Open
8. Dave Stockton had two majors, the 1970 PGA and the 1976 PGA plus five additional PGA Tour victories in the 1970s. He was widely regarded as a superb putter and recently his technique and teaching philosophy are finding favor with today’s top stars such as Phil Mickelson. Stockton was captain of the 1991 Ryder Cup team won by the US.
7. Hubert Green won a US Open under a death threat in 1977. It was played at Southern Hills CC. Green also earned 16 titles in the 1970s, and was one of the era’s most prolific players. He used a crouched over putting style but had a tremendous short game. Green was recently inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
6. Hale Irwin won just over half of his 20 PGA Tour victories in the 1970s. He captured two of his three US Open titles in 1974 and 1979. His first victory in the 1970s was the 1971 Sea Pines Heritage Classic. Ironically, his final PGA Tour victory was at the same tournament, the 1994 MCI Heritage Golf Classic. His Champions tour record of 45 victories may never be matched.
5. Johnny Miller was a like a rocket taking off on the PGA Tour. He came, he won and then he left. In the 1970s, he had 18 victories and earned the name Desert Fox for his victories in the desert tournaments where he fired low rounds with pinpoint iron accuracy. Miller won the 1973 US Open, in which he fired a final round 63 at Oakmont to jump over all others He also won the 1976 British Open.
4. Tom Watson blossomed in the 1970s with 22 wins in a six year span starting in 1974 with the Western Open. In that decade, he won three major championships, including two of his five British Opens -- 1975 and 1977 – and the 1977 Masters. Watson would go on to win eight major championships, 39 PGA Tour titles, was Player of the Year six times, three times in the 1970s.
3. Gary Player, with 11 wins, but four major championships, goes ahead of all but two golfers in the decade of the 1970s. He won the 1972 PGA, 1974 Masters and British Open and the 1978 Masters. Player’s first major championship was the 1959 British Open, and his last was the 1974 British Open. He is one of five golfers to win the career grand slam.
2. Lee Trevino acted like he was having fun, but golf was a serious business for him. In the 1970s, he tied with Tom Watson for overall number of PGA Tour titles with 22, but he matched Gary Player in number of majors with four. Trevino won the 1971 U.S. Open, 1971 British Open, 1972 British Open and the 1974 PGA. His last major and last PGA Tour victory was the 1984 PGA. He won six majors in all.
1. It should be no surprise that Jack Nicklaus is the number one player of the 1970s. With 38 titles and eight majors in the decade, the ten year span was more than a career for several players. In the 1970s Nicklaus won the 1970 British Open, 1971 PGA, 1972 U.S. Open and Masters, the 1973 PGA, the 1975 Masters and PGA and the 1978 British Open. He was player of the year times in the1970s and eventually the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year trophy was named for him. Nicklaus changed the landscape of golf for all who followed him. The strong competition from Arnold Palmer and Gary Player gave the PGA Tour strong platform for growth in the 1970s.