The Masters Tournament: Ranking the Top 5 Golfers of All-Time at Augusta

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Jack Nicklaus on the 9th hole at Augusta National in 2006. Credit: Torrey Wiley.

Whether it’s the Champions’ Dinner, the par 3 contests, or the esteemed green jacket, the Masters Tournament instills golfers and zealots of the sport with a sense of elation incomparable to any other major event. And this year, Bubba Watson was able to seize this euphoria and turn it into triumph before the crowds of golf’s faithful at Augusta National. And yet as impressive as his victory was, we would like to take a moment and pay tribute to some of the finest past performers on golf’s greatest stage.

5. Phil Mickelson

Lefty is no stranger to success at Augusta. He captured glory three times within a six-year span, winning in 2004, 2006, and 2010. Michelson’s exceptional short game and aggressive style of play has also landed him with five 3rd place showings and 10 top 5 finishes. Perhaps the 2010 tournament was his chief appearance as he shot a bogey-free final round score of 67 to win by three strokes. The 43-year-old is still one of the PGA’s premier golfers and will have quite a few opportunities in the future to add to his legacy at Augusta.

4. Sam Snead

Slammin’ Sam will forever be recognized as the first champion of the tournament to be bestowed with the illustrious green jacket. Snead donned the coveted jacket in 1949, 1952, and 1954. His dexterity for the long iron and croquet-style putting brought an alluring style of play to the greens. Snead was twice a runner-up at the event and found himself in the top 5 a total of nine times. The most memorable moment of his 44 appearances might have been his adrenaline-charged playoff win over Ben Hogan in 1954.

3. Arnold Palmer

Palmer is one of only three men to have won the tournament four or more times. His titles came in 1958, 1960, 1962, and 1964. While his 1964 display was his most dominant of the quartet of victories, golf analysts most often rave about his wire-to-wire win in 1960. In Arnie’s 50 consecutive appearances, he cracked the top 5 on nine occasions and was a runner-up two times. Since 2008, Palmer has been a honorary starter for the Masters.

2. Tiger Woods

Woods is also a four-time champion of the prestigious event. His victories came in 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2005. Tiger’s 1997 play remains his most prodigious win because of the abundant number of records he broke. Woods became the youngest winner of the event at 21-years-old, had the widest winning margin (12 strokes), and the lowest winning score (−18). Tiger has endured a few second place finishes as well as 11 top 5 appearances.

1. Jack Nicklaus

You might as well call Nicklaus Mr. Masters. He has come out on top on six occasions, which is unmatched by anyone in the sport. To truly appreciate how remarkable this achievement is, just remember that Nicklaus has more Masters wins than Gary Player (3) and Ben Hogan (2) combined. Of his wins in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, and 1986, his 1965 finish was most outstanding. Jack shot a then-record score of -17 and dominated the competition, winning by nine strokes. Even at 58-years-old, the Golden Bear was able to place sixth, which is the benchmark for golfers on the Champions Tour.






Top 5

Top 10

Jack William Nicklaus






Eldrick Tiger Woods






Arnold Daniel Palmer






Samuel Jackson Snead






Philip Alfred Mickelson







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