After Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, which male golfer has won the most major championships?
On April 13, 1986, Jack Nicklaus, aged 46 and seemingly past his prime, recorded five birdies and an eagle on the back nine of the final round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club to win an improbable eighteenth major championship of his career. On April 14, 2019, Tiger Woods, aged 43 and similarly written off by many, resumed his pursuit of Nicklaus’ elusive total, after an 11-year hiatus, when winning his fifth Masters title – just one behind Nicklaus’ total of six – and his fifteenth major championship in all.
To answer the headline question, though, after Nicklaus and Woods, the male golfer to win the most major championships was another American professional,Walter Hagen, who, alongside amateur Bobby Jones, dominated golf in the early part of the twentieth century. Unlike Nicklaus and Woods, Hagen never won the Masters Tournament, so did not complete a career ‘Gland Slam’, but nevertheless won eleven major championships between 1914 and 1929.
Born in Rochester, New York on December 21, 1892, ‘The Haig’ was only 21 when he won his first ‘major’, the US Open, in 1914. He won the US Open again, in 1919, the US PGA Championship – which was, until 1958, a matchplay, rather than strokeplay, event – five times, in 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1927, and the Open Championship four times, in 1922, 1924, 1928 and 1929. Shortly after his death, on October 5, 1969, Hagen was hailed as ‘the father of the modern professional golf’.