If the best male golfer of all-time is judged by the amount of majors that he’s won, then Jack Nicklaus stands at the summit of golf’s greats. ‘The Golden Bear’ won 18 majors in his career between 1963 and 1986, including triumphing at all four majors on several occasions. His rivalry with Arnold Palmer was legendary, and he saw off the challenges of Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson to remain golf’s leading player for around two decades.
Seve Ballesteros was arguably the most naturally gifted golfer to ever come out of Europe. His prestigious talent was evident early in his career when he became the youngest winner of the British Open of the 20th Century in 1979. Known for his brave and attacking game, Ballesteros was sometimes dismissed by the purists for his uninhibited approach, which sometimes saw possible victories slip from his fingers. An inspirational figure in the Ryder Cup for Europe, and a majors winner several times over, Seve Ballesteros died of cancer aged only 54 in 2011.
Tiger Woods replaced Seve Ballesteros as golf’s most exciting player in the late 1990s. Woods, though, has always had a more controlled game than the charismatic Spaniard, and the American combines great length on his driving with great accuracy – both in reaching the fairways, and on the putting green. Along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Tiger Woods has won all four of golf’s majors. In the early years of the 21st Century the Tiger was so dominant that he appeared to be making golf look easy, but injuries have made the 14-time major winner appear more human in recent years. Despite a long period without a major, however, Woods is still assured of his status among the all-time greats of golf.
Known for his penchant for wearing black Gary Player bought an element of cool to the game of golf. The South African always believed in the value of practising, and famously said that the more he practised the luckier he got. A contrasting figure to the powerful build of Jack Nicklaus, Player matched the American in terms of longevity, with his nine majors being won in three different decades.