The following is a list of the professional golfers who have won the most majors. The four majors in golf are The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. Professional golfers stamp themselves as great by winning the major championships.
I've been a golfer and golf fan since I was kid back in the 1970s. I've seen many of the players on this list play and watched a number of them win their majors.
I grew up a Jack Nicklaus fan and always watched him play. He won one of his majors at a golf course (Baltusrol) not too far from where I grew up while I was in high school. That was huge deal back then and an unforgettable moment for golf fans from the area.
Professional Golfers Who Have Won the Most Majors
1. Jack Nicklaus - 18
Spanning a 25-year period from 1962 to 1986, Jack Nicklaus won 18 major golf championships. Nicklaus won a record six Masters Tournaments, in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, and 1986.
He also won a record five PGA Championships, in 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, and 1980. Jack Nicklaus won four U.S. Opens, in 1962, 1967,1972 and 1980. I was in high school in New Jersey when Jack Nicklaus won his last U.S. Open at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J. in 1980. I didn't live too far from there at the time, and his win at Baltusrol was big deal.
Jack Nicklaus also won three British Opens, in 1966, 1970, and 1978. In addition to his 18 wins, Jack Nicklaus finished second 19 times at majors and third another nine times. So from 1962 to 1986, Jack Nicklaus played 100 majors and finished in the top three 46 times. That is sheer mental toughness and a great achievement at the highest level for a golfer.
2. Tiger Woods - 14
So far in his career, Tiger Woods has won 14 majors. Tiger's first major was at The Masters in 1997. He also went on to win The Masters three more times, in 2001, 2002, and 2005. Tiger has also won the PGA Championship four times, in 1999, 2000, 2006, and 2007.
Tiger Woods has won the U.S. Open three times, in 2000, 2005 and 2008, as well as the British Open three times, in 2000, 2005 and 2006. Back in 2008, you couldn't find too many golf fans who didn't think Tiger Woods would surpass Jack Nicklaus and win more than 18 majors. He's gone six years now without winning a major.
3. Walter Hagen - 11
Walter Hagen won 11 majors in his great career between 1914 and 1929. Hagen won the PGA Championship a record five times (tied with Jack Nicklaus), in 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927. Each year Hagen won the PGA it was a match play tournament, which it remained until 1958, when it changed to stroke play.
In 1922, Walter Hagen became the first golfer born in the United States to win the British Open. He went on to win the British Open three more times, in 1924, 1928, and 1929. Hagen's first major came in 1914 when he won the U.S. Open; he also won the U.S. Open in 1919. Walter Hagen might have won even more majors, but The Masters was not played until 1934, well past Hagen's prime.
T-4. Gary Player - 9
South African Gary Player won nine majors from 1959 to 1978. Player's first major came in 1959 when he won the first of his three British Opens. He also won the British Open in 1968 and 1974. Player also won three Masters, in 1961, 1974, and 1978.
Gary Player won two PGA Championships, in 1962 and 1972, and he won the U.S. Open once in 1965.
T-4. Ben Hogan - 9
Ben Hogan won nine majors in his career, beginning with a PGA Championship in 1946. He also won the PGA in 1948. Ben Hogan won four U.S. Opens in his career, in 1948, 1950, 1951, and 1953. He won The Masters twice, in 1951 and 1953, and one won British Open in 1953. Hogan might have won more majors, but he didn't play the PGA Championship every year because he didn't like match play.
6. Tom Watson - 8
Tom Watson won eight majors in his career, beginning with the first of his five British Opens in 1975. Watson also won the British Open, in 1977, 1980, 1982, and 1983. He won The Masters twice, in 1977 and 1981, and the U.S. Open in 1982. Tom Watson never won a PGA Championship; he finished second in 1978.
Watson won all eight of his majors over a really short window from 1975 to 1983. That's just nine years.
In the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, though, Tom Watson missed a par put on the 18th and last hole on Sunday that would have won him the British Open for the sixth time at a record age of 59. The miss put Watson into a four-hole playoff with Stewart Cink, and Cink defeated Watson in the playoff for the win.
Players with Seven Majors
The following five golfers have won seven majors. Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazan, Bobby Jones and Harry Vardon. It should be noted that Sarazan, Jones and Vardon were unfortunately limited because some of the major tournaments were not played during their careers.
Players with Six Majors
Both Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino won six majors in their careers. Trevino never won a Masters, but won at each of the other majors twice. Faldo won three Masters and three British Opens.
Players with five majors
Phil Mickelson, Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros, James Braid, John Henry Taylor, and Peter Thomson all won five majors.