Officially – that is, according to Guinness World Records – the longest drive ever recorded in competitive golf was 515 yards, achieved by the late Michael Hoke ‘Mike’ Austin during a qualifying tournament for the U.S. Senior National Open at Winterwood Golf Course, Las Vegas in 1974. Using an old-fashioned persimmon driver, Austin achieved a carry of over 400 yards and when his ball came to rest it was some 65 yards past the flagstick on the par-4 fifth hole.
However, unofficially, the longest drive ever recorded was an eye-watering 787 yards, achieved by Carl Hooper in the Texas Open at Oak Hills Country Club, San Antonio in 1992. Hooper used a metal driver, but a rudimentary model. Nevertheless, his tee shot on the par-4 third hole landed on a concrete cart path and began a protracted journey to a spot behind the twelfth green, some 300 yards beyond his intended target. The general consensus was that the ball had travelled at least 750 yards from the third tee and his caddy worked out the yardage as 787 yards.
The simple answer is no, he has not. Nevertheless, having completed his comeback from a debilitating back injury – which saw him plummet to #1,199 in the world golf rankings and put his career at risk – by winning the Masters Tournament in April, 2019, Tiger Woods remains head and shoulders above the current crop of golfers in terms of major titles won.
Notwithstanding the admirable Tom Watson, who turns 70 in 2019, yet continues to play competitive golf – albeit limited to a handful of appearances on the senior tour – Tiger Woods has ten more ‘major’ victories to his name than any other current player. His nearest rival in that respect is Phil Mickelson, who won his fifth major at the Open in 2013, but is five years Woods’ senior and, with all due respect, is running out of time to make up ground on his illustrious rival.
Indeed, Woods’ career total of 15 majors is second in the all-time list behind only Jack Nicklaus who, between 1962 and 1986 – when he won the Masters Tournament, for a record sixth time, at the age of 46 – amassed 18 Grand Slam wins. When he won his first major championship, the Masters Tournament in 1997, at the age of 21, Woods beat Nicklaus, by then a 57-year-old veteran, by 29 strokes, but over two decades later still has work to do to pass the ‘Golden Bear’ for most major golf championships won.
The lowest score ever recorded in competitive golf, as recognised by Guinness World Records, is 55, achieved by Australian professional Rhein Gibson at River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma on May 12, 2012. The 26-year-old had already set the course record of 60 the previous week but, starting from the tenth tee, recorded six birdies and two eagles for an outward nine of 26, followed by six birdies for an inward nine of 29, and a total of 55, 16 strokes fewer than the number supposedly required to complete the 6,850-yard course. Originally from New South Wales, but educated at Oklahoma Christian University, where he was a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American, Gibson was twelfth on the money list for the developmental Golfweek National Pro Tour, but had a world ranking of 1,444.
Several other rounds of 55 have been documented, such as that recorded by American professional Homero Blancas in the Premier Invitational at Longview, Texas in 1962, but are not recognised by Guinness World Records because the course was deemed too short or the round deemed non-competitive. By contrast, Gibson conquered a full-sized 18-hole course with what his playing partner Eric Fox called ‘an almost perfect round of golf’.
Tiger Woods won his first major championship, the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, at the age of 21, in April, 1997. Woods’ victory came less than eight months after his professional debut, at the Greater Milwaukee Open at the Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Wisconsin, the previous August. His caddy at Augusta National was Michael ‘Fluff’ Cowan, so nicknamed by fellow caddies because of his bushy, white moustache and resemblance to former golf analyst Steve Melnyk, who bore the same epithet during his college days.
Already approaching 50 years old, Cowan had previously worked for Peter Jacobsen for 19 years, but joined Woods, with the blessing of his former employer, in the autumn of 1996. Woods once described Cowan as the ‘best caddy in the world’, but their working relationship lasted only until March, 1999, when Cowan was released for ‘undisclosed’ reasons. Nevertheless, Cowan, now aged 71, remains a well-known and well-respected caddy on the PGA Tour and, since 1999, has carried the bag of Jim Furyk.