GOLF’S GREATEST EVER PLAYERS

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Golf is fortunate to have many greats grace the game. From the likes of Gene Sarazen and Tom Watson to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, it is near impossible to determine who the greatest golfer ever is. Walter Hagen became one of the first golfing celebrities when his flash lifestyle and his colourful clothes captured audiences before he climbed his way to the top of the game.

The trio of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan all put golf on a worldwide scale and who can forget the likes of Seve Ballesteros?   In the modern day, Woods produced shots and destroyed opponents like nobody had seen before. He doesn’t have the same record as Nicklaus when it comes to major victories as of yet, but he does boast more PGA Tour wins.

Now, Rory McIlroy has the potential to become unstoppable and the Northern Irishman is certainly the most talented during this day and age. At the age of 25, he has four majors to his name and is gunning for the career Grand Slam when the Masters arrives in April.

Here’s a closer look at the players with the most major victories. Who is the greatest golfer of all time in your opinion?

Jack Nicklaus
American Jack Nicklaus is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers ever. With 18 major wins to his name, he dominates the rest of the field when it comes to success. Nicklaus had a vision, he limited the number of PGA Tours he played in and put all his focus into major tournaments. Remarkably, Nicklaus is still third on the all-time list of PGA Tour wins.

His first major win came in 1962, less than a year after turning professional. In a playoff against heavily backed Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus emerged victorious and at 22-years-old, he announced his talent to the world becoming the youngest U.S. Open winner since 1923.

A year later he won the Masters, the first of his six green jackets and the PGA Championship. Nicklaus completed his career Grand Slam in 1966 when he won the Open Championship at Muirfield under dreadful conditions.

His success didn’t end there however. Nicklaus completed his second Grand Slam in 1971 and his triple career Grand Slam six years later. Not only did he win 18 majors, Nicklaus finished second 19 times and third on nine occasions.

Tiger Woods
Injuries and loss of form have hampered Woods’ progress with the American struggling to make any impact at the top level since his 14th major win at the U.S. Open in 2008. Many predicted the former World No.1 would go on break the record of major wins but it now looks increasingly likely that Nicklaus’ major tally will remain intact.

At the peak of his form, Woods was unstoppable. He became the youngest Masters winner when he claimed the green jacket in 1997 and two months later he broke the record for the fastest ascent to No.1 in the world. Two years later, Woods won the PGA Championship but it was 2000 when he achieved his career highlight winning U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship in the same year.

When Woods won the Masters in 2001, he became the first golfer to hold four major championship trophies. Woods has made his comeback albeit without a bang so far but many still remain hopeful that we will see the best of Tiger one more time.

Walter Hagen
Walter Hagen was golf’s central figures during the first half of the 20th century and he did it style often turning up to tournaments in a Rolls Royce sipping a glass of champagne.

Hagen’s confidence was matched by his ability and he won his first major in 1914 at the U.S. Open which he later won again five years later.   Hagen ended his career with 11 major wins, five at the PGA Championship and four at the Open Championship but the only jigsaw missing from the puzzle was the fact he never managed to win the Masters with his best finish coming in 1936 when he tied for 11th.   During a period when there was a stark difference between amateur and professional players, Gene Sarazen believes it was Hagen who made professional golf what it is today.

Ben Hogan
Ben Hogan is known to be one of the cleanest ball strikers ever and his swing was so crisp that people thought he had developed a “secret” which none of his competitors knew. When he first turned professional in 1930, Hogan failed to make any impact going bankrupt on a couple of occasions.

The American had to wait until 1946 to win his first major at the PGA Championship and from then on it was a conveyer belt of major wins and awards. In 1949, Hogan would be fighting for his life after a car accident left him with a fractured pelvis, a fractured collar-bone a left ankle fracture and blood-clots. Nine months after the accident, Hogan produced a near-miracle by returning to the PGA Tour and in 1950, he won the countries hearts after winning the U.S. Open.

Hogan would go onto complete a career Grand Slam with nine majors but without his car accident and involvement during World War II, his ability could have lead him to many more major titles.

Gary Player
The South African was the first non-American to complete a career Grand Slam and is third on the all-time list for professional wins behind Roberto di Vicenzo and Sam Snead with over 166. During the 1950s and 1970s, golf in America was growing dramatically and Player was instrumental during the rise.

His first major win came at the Open Championship in 1959 and he ended his career with nine major wins over a 19-year span. He was also the only player in the 20th century to win the Open Championship in three different decades and in 2009, at the age of 73, he was playing at the Masters for a record 52nd time.

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