Top 10 major winners since 1960: Starts, wins, second-place finishes…

Just where does Phil Mickelson sit among the greats to have ever played the game.

[table sort=”,,desc,,,,,” colalign=”left|center|center|center|center|center|center|center|center|center|center|center”]
Jack Nicklaus,163,18,11,19,12,46,28,56,43,73,45
Tiger Woods,68,14,21,6,9,24,35,31,46,37,54
Gary Player,150,9,6,6,4,18,12,23,15,44,29
Tom Watson,137,8,6,8,6,18,13,25,18,46,34
Arnold Palmer,142,7,5,10,7,19,13,26,18,38,27
Lee Trevino,89,6,7,2,2,9,10,14,16,22,25
Nick Faldo,98,6,6,3,3,12,12,18,18,26,27
Peter Thomson,43,5,12,3,7,9,21,12,28,22,51
Seve Ballesteros,87,5,6,3,3,10,11,15,17,20,23
Phil Mickelson,84,5,6,8,10,20,24,24,29,35,42

Click on each column header to sort

After Phil Mickelson’s stunning victory at Muirfield on Sunday there has been a lot of chatter about just how good Mickelson is and where he will ultimately sit on the list of major winners.

The Muirfield victory means Mickelson now has five majors to his name but the spectre of ‘the ones that got away’ from Mickelson loom large in conversation, such as the 2006 and 2013 US Open’s. Mickelson has finished in second place eight times in his career at the majors but where does his overall record stack up against the greats?

As a self-confessed geek I compiled the table below to investigate but it’s obvious that comparing golfers from different eras is problematic, if not unwise.

In order to get a good estimation of where Phil Mickelson was at I’ve just compared him to golfers of more modern times and listed golfers who have won the most majors after 1960, including Peter Thomson’s victories in the 1950s.

This of course excludes greats such as Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen and many others but these guys won majors in a time when there were fewer tournaments to win and with vastly different sets of clubs, to mention just a few differences.

For each golfer on this list I’ve included number of starts, wins, second-place finishes, top-3, top-5 and top-10 finishes and alongside the results as a percentage of the number of starts in majors.

I realise this table, the way the data is presented and the very fact I’m comparing golfers who played in different times with vastly different technology is flawed. But hey, golf is just a sport and this is just for fun.

There are certainly a few things one can draw from all this with the obvious conclusion that Woods wins out it nearly every category as a percentage of starts. All except one; second place finishes.

Nicklaus finished in second place more often per start than Woods at the majors, but he is closely trailed in this department by Mickelson.

Mickelson has obviously had his share of heartbreak at the majors but it’s clear he is on track to leave a most remarkable legacy on the history of the game.

5 thoughts on “Top 10 major winners since 1960: Starts, wins, second-place finishes…

  • What about the best to have never won top 5’s/10’s. Does Westwood lead that table?

    • Good call Richie. I’d like to see that table myself… I’ll see if I can find some time.

  • Wow – the thing I found striking about your table is just how few starts Tiger has had!

    • Very true. Second only behind Thommo in this list.

  • I would be interested in seeing the stats with the age capped at 50 or 55. Jack, Gary and Arnie in particular played a fair number of majors when they were no longer really competitive and mostly ceremonial (don’t tell them that) players.


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