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The Best 5 Golfers of All Time

Sean O'NeilSenior Analyst IAugust 29, 2011

The Best 5 Golfers of All Time

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    Through time, there have been so many incredible golfers, from names such as Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon and Phil Mickelson, to even the most recent of names like Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley.

    Of the hundreds who have played the game, I have narrowed the group down to a list of who I think should be the top five of all time. Everyone has a different idea of who stands atop the golfing world, and this is my list.

Honorable Mentions

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    Francis Ouimet: Ouimet is not one of the greatest golfers of all time, but when he won the U.S. Open in 1913 at the age of 20, he put golf on the map as a mainstream sport. We can thank him for all of the great American players whom we have seen over the years.

    Byron Nelson: Nelson is sixth all time on the PGA Tour in wins with 52, which included five in Major championships. In 1945 he won 11 straight tournaments with a total of 18 on the year.

    Gary Player: The South African won nine Majors in his lifetime, among 165 total tournament wins across various tours. He only had 25 PGA tour wins, but what he accomplished was incredible.

    Sam Snead: Slammin' Sammy won seven Majors and he holds the record for most PGA Tour wins with 82. He was never able to win a U.S. Open, but he will always be one of the all-time greats.

    Ben Hogan: Hogan is fourth all time with 64 career PGA Tour wins, which included nine Major victories. The legendary ball striker would be No. 6 on this list, but alas, this list only goes to five.

5. Walter Hagen

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    Walter Hagen holds the third most amount of Major championships with 11, while he also won a total of 45 PGA Tour events. Hagen was the first ever American-born player to win the British Open, a feat that he managed to accomplish four times. 

    After playing for years in the PGA, Hagen realized there was more money to be made in exhibition golf, where he became the first ever sportsman to win a million dollars. Hagen had an incredible knowledge of the game, and who knows how many more championships he would have won had he not stopped competing in the PGA.

4. Arnold Palmer

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    Arnold Palmer is fifth on the career PGA Tour wins list with 62, which included seven Majors championships. He was PGA Tour Player of the Year twice and led the money list four times.

    He wasn't nicknamed "The King" for no reason. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1960 when he was awarded the title of "Sportsman of the Year."

    He will certainly never be forgotten because even after he has passed on, kids will still be drinking these half lemonade, half iced tea concoctions called an "Arnold Palmer."

3. Bobby Jones

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    Bobby Jones had the potential to be the greatest golfer ever, and he never made a penny from winning a tournament. Jones never turned professional in his career and therefore was unable to make money from the sport. He played for fun. 

    He won 13 Major championships in his career and is still the only golfer ever to have won the Grand Slam, all four Major championships in a single year. There could be another Major added to that list, but in 1925 at the U.S. Open, Jones called a penalty on himself when he saw his ball move, which caused him to lose the tournament by one stroke.

    Jones retired at the age of 28. We may never get to know how many Major championships he could have won as he entered his prime, but we will never forget the sportsmanship he brought to the game—along with our favorite golf course, Augusta National.  

2. Tiger Woods

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    A few short years ago, I would have told you Tiger Woods will forever be remembered as the greatest golfer of all time. 

    Now I'm not so sure.

    Woods has won 14 Majors, which is second all time, and he has won 71 PGA Tournaments, which is third all time. He is only 35 years old and there is time yet to win, but his performance the last two years has been depressing.

    He lost his marriage, he lost his caddy and it would seem that he is slowly losing the support of any fans that he has left. If he can pull himself together over the next few years, maybe he will become the greatest to ever play the game, but for now his incredible accomplishments will have to settle for second place.

1. Jack Nicklaus

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    There is no question in my mind that Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer to ever play the game.

    He has the most ever Major championship wins with 18 to go with his second most ever PGA Tour wins with 73. The Golden Bear won the Masters on six different occasions, the last coming when he was 46 years old, which makes him the oldest to ever win the tournament.

    Nicklaus did great things for the game of golf, and there is a reason why he led the money list on eight separate occasions and was named PGA Player of the Year five times.

    He was the best.

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