The Worst Golfer Ever to Win a Major

No pro wants to be known as “The Best Golfer Never to Have Won a Major.” Who that is doesn’t get mentioned lately, but who is the worst golfer ever to win a major never does. Leave it to me to bring it up.

Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has ever won a major championship is a fantastic golfer and deserves all the credit he gets, or got. But they’re not all Ben Hogan. I’m just asking who is the farthest away from the Jones/Hogan/Nicklaus/Woods line of major winners.

First, we have to know what a major championship is. The four majors played today are not very often, but rightly, referred to as the “modern majors.” Back before the first Masters in 1934, we had the Western Open, played in Chicago, and run by the Western Golf Association, a rival to the United States Golf Association. There was also the North & South, played at Pinehurst. Both of these tournaments were considered majors well into the 1930s. I’m not sure when the Masters became a major, but it didn’t start out that way. Since we can only evaluate golfers in the context of their time, I’ll include the winners of the Western and North & South up through 1945.

We also need to know when to start our examination. The British Open dates back to 1860. I wouldn’t know how to evaluate the 1865 winner, Andrew Strath, for example, who inserted himself in the middle of a 12-year period from 1860 to 1872 when the only winners were Tom Morris (Old and Young) and Willie Park. Strath, for whom the Strath Bunker on #11 at the Old Course is named, has to have been pretty good. The other five tournaments had later starts, but I’m going to wait until 1919, the first year following the close of WW I, to begin the study.

I could write a long essay, but since this is a blog post, I have to get right to the point. You can look up each of these tournaments on Wikipedia to look at the list of winners and draw your own conclusions. These are mine.

Post-WWII:
British Open — Ben Curtis (2003)
United States Open — Orville Moody (1969)
PGA — Shaun Micheel (2003)
The Masters — Larry Mize (1987)

All Time:
British Open — Alf Perry (1935)
United States Open — Sam Parks, Jr. (1935)
PGA — Tom Creavy (1931)
The Masters — Larry Mize (1987)
Western Open — Abe Espinosa (1928)
North & South — Pat O’Hara (1922)

Worst Golfer Ever To Win a Major — Sam Parks, Jr. The 1935 U.S. Open was his only professional victory.

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