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Golfers with the most PGA Tour wins of all-time

Golfers with the most PGA Tour wins of all-time
Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

The all-time PGA Tour wins list is full of golf legends from multiple generations of the game from Tiger Woods at the turn of the century to Walter Hagen in the early 1900s.

The 2021 PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, who left the PGA Tour, also ranks among the winningest golfers ever, but do continue reading to learn more about several other giants of the game who deserve their due recognition and rank in the top 10 for the most PGA Tour wins.

Here is the list of golfers with the most PGA Tour wins.

T10. Tom Watson & Cary Middlecoff, 39 PGA Tour wins

T10. Tom Watson & Cary Middlecoff, 39 PGA Tour wins
The Augusta Chronicle via USA TODAY NETWORK

When Tom Watson was at his best, so was Jack Nicklaus, making it that much more tougher for Watson during his prime in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. He was a pure ball-striker and phenomenal putter in his heyday, and had the game to travel anywhere and thrive under any conditions, good or bad.

Of his 39 PGA Tour victories, Watson won The Open Championship five times and was a steady winner during his PGA Tour career. One of those Open Championships that is forever remember is Watson’s victory in 1977 between him and Nicklaus in the ‘Duel in the Sun.’ Both were 10 shots ahead of the field at one point and Watson birdied four of his final six holes to capture the Claret Jug.

Even after his supposed prime was over, Watson won the Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament in 1996 — nearly nine years removed from his last PGA Tour win — and got one more “W” at Colonial in May 1998.

Cary Middlecoff, who chose golf after a career as a dentist, won three majors and actually got his first win as an amateur at the 1945 North and South Open, which was a big tournament at the time. In the 1950s, Middlecoff racked up 28 victories, and only played 15 seasons on tour. That’s a much shorter tenure than most players on this list.

Despite playing a decade and a half on the PGA Tour, he accumulated more money during his PGA Tour career than Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and anyone during the 50s. He was one of the best in his generation in driving, with his long irons and his putting.

Related: Highest paid golfers of 2023

T8. Phil Mickelson & Walter Hagen, 45 PGA Tour wins

T8. Phil Mickelson & Walter Hagen, 45 PGA Tour wins
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mickelson’s 2021 PGA Championship triumph made him the oldest major champion at 50 years old and it tied Walter Hagen for eighth on the all-time PGA Tour wins list.

Mickelson, who was was already a Hall of Famer, had little left to prove at this stage of his career. Nevertheless, he’s continued to grind and has proven he can still compete with the world’s best by winning a major.

All that’s really missing from his resume is a U.S. Open victory, and he should still have at least a few years left to take a crack at that. However, with his move to LIV Golf, it makes his chances to complete the career Grand Slam that much more difficult because of the less amount of tournaments to play in before America’s National Tournament.

As for Hagen, well, he burst onto the scene at the 1914 U.S. Open for his first PGA Tour victory in his early 20s and never looked back as he was one of the best players in the early 20th century. He won at a prolific rate, and became a pioneer for endorsements and higher prize money. Hagen was also golf’s first-ever millionaire.

Hagen’s best years came during the 1923 and 1924 seasons when he won five events each. Furthermore, Hagen won the Western Open five times, which at the time was the third biggest event behind the British Open and the U.S. Open. Speaking of the big tournaments, Hagen won 11 majors, which ranks third best, only trialing Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

7. Billy Casper, 51 PGA Tour wins

7. Billy Casper, 51 PGA Tour wins
Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY NETWORK

To get a sense of how good Billy Casper was, consider that he won the PGA Tour’s Vardon Trophy five times — which is awarded each season for the lowest scoring average — and also also won at a clip of 9.2%. In golf, that’s quite an excellent percentage.

Casper was a strong chipper and putter who competed with many of the other stars on this list in their primes in the 1960s and early 70s. Because his game wasn’t as much of a superstar as, say, Nicklaus or Palmer, he often gets a little overlooked.

In fact, Casper went head-to-head with Palmer and came out on top in one of the most thrilling finishes ever.

At the 1966 U.S. Open, he was paired with Palmer for the final round. When they made the turn to the back nine, Palmer was seven strokes ahead. Amazingly, Casper rallied to tie in regulation, and then topped Palmer in an 18-hole playoff for one of his three major championships.

6. Byron Nelson, 52 PGA Tour wins

6. Byron Nelson, 52 PGA Tour wins
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The achievement Byron Nelson will always be best known for is his streak of 11 straight victories in 1945, en route to an 18-win season. Just to put into perspective how dominant Nelson was in 1945, only three players have five PGA Tour wins in a single season since 2010.

Nelson’s 1945 season is one of those records that might never be achieved again. What’s crazy is, Nelson ranks this high on the all-time PGA Tour wins list despite retiring at age 34.

At the time, no one had ever even reached 50 wins on tour, so when Nelson started piling up trophies at such a crazy clip, it was truly mind-blowing at the time. Like Arnold Palmer, too, Nelson has a tournament named after him that still runs on the PGA Tour to this day.

In addition, World War II hurt Nelson’s chances to climb this leaderboard even more as majors and regular season tournaments were canceled, including the 1943-45 Masters Tournaments and the 1942-45 U.S. Opens.

5. Arnold Palmer, 62 PGA Tour wins

5. Arnold Palmer, 62 PGA Tour wins
Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK

While Tiger Woods lifted golf into another stratosphere in terms of coolness and accessibility, in the earlier days of television when golf was still searching for a solid audience, Arnold Palmer was the catalyst who helped the sport explode with popularity.

Beyond his undeniable star power, though, Palmer is one of golf’s greatest champions. Palmer, who was known as “The King,” had one of the most dominant stretches of all-time from 1960 through 1963, in which he won a whopping 32 times, including five majors. That is nearly half of his wins coming in a three-year span.

During the 1962 season, he won eight tournaments for the second time in three seasons. Since then, only three golfers have won eight or more times in a single PGA Tour season.

4. Ben Hogan, 64 PGA Tour wins

4. Ben Hogan, 64 PGA Tour wins
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

There may never have been a better ball-striker in the history of golf than Ben Hogan. His steely determination, tireless work ethic on the driving range and perfection of his swing mechanics forged The Hawk into a nine-time major champion and prolific PGA Tour winner.

In his home state of Texas, Hogan won the Colonial National Invitation — now known as the Charles Schwab Challenge — five times. He is tied with Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson with the record of four U.S. Open titles.

Hogan had his career impeded by serving in the Army during World War II and a near-fatal car accident in 1949 that caused severe injuries. As a result, his 1950 U.S. Open victory is considered one of the crowning achievements in golf and all of sports, signifying resilience and courage.

There is an award in his honor, the Ben Hogan Award, which is given to the top amateur and professional tournament results over the previous 12 months.

3. Jack Nicklaus, 73 PGA Tour wins

3. Jack Nicklaus, 73 PGA Tour wins
Malcolm Emmons- USA TODAY Sports

What’s perhaps most incredible about Jack Nicklaus’ career beyond his unmatched major total is how many close calls he actually had at the four Grand Slam events. In addition to his 18 major titles wins, the Golden Bear logged 19 runner-up finishes.

Considering how relatively close behind the all-time PGA Tour wins mark Nicklaus sits in proximity to Snead and Woods, those near-misses at majors have to sting a little more.

However, Nicklaus was one of the most mentally tough players the game has ever seen, and claims to have selective memory loss about the marquee events he lost. That’s part of what made him so great.

In total, Nicklaus won six Masters, four U.S. Opens, three Open Championships and five PGA Championships, completing the career Grand Slam several times. He and Harry Vardon are the only six-time champions at a single major.

The last time Nicklaus claimed glory at Augusta National Golf Club on a Masters Sunday, he was 46, which turned out to be his final PGA Tour victory.

Nicklaus’ best years came during the 1972 and 1973 seasons when he won seven events each. In addition to his two major wins in 1972, he started and ended his season with victories, beginning with the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am and concluding the year with a trophy at the Walt Disney World Open Invitational to encapsulate an all-around great season.

T1. Tiger Woods & Sam Snead, 82 PGA Tour wins

T1. Tiger Woods & Sam Snead, 82 PGA Tour wins
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

At the top of the PGA Tour wins list, there is a tie between Tiger Woods and Sam Snead, who combine for 22 major championship trophies.

Any casual sports fan knows about Woods’ dominance, which has fundamentally changed golf over the past three decades or so. Before going deep on his epic PGA Tour tenure, let’s first take a closer look at Snead.

Snead’s wins spanned from 1936 through 1965. His final victory came at the Greater Greensboro Open — now called the Wyndham Championship — for the eighth time. No one has won a single PGA Tour event as many times as Snead won that tournament, until Woods came along.

In addition to his prowess on the PGA Tour, Snead collected seven major titles to his overall win total. Snead won the Masters and PGA Championship three times apiece, as well as the Open Championship in 1946. The only leg of the career Grand Slam he missed was the U.S. Open, where he was a four-time runner-up.

OK, now let’s get into Woods. Here are the highlights from his record-tying 82nd victory at the 2019 ZOZO Championship in Japan:

Tiger has defied the odds time and time again, whether it’s recovering from major injuries, rebuilding his swing or rebounding from personal life challenges off the course. He went more than five years between victories from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2013 to his 2018 Tour Championship triumph.

That breakthrough in the FedEx Cup finale foreshadowed Woods’ return to major glory at the 2019 Masters, which is among the most incredible wins and comeback stories in sports history similar to Hogan nearly seven decades later. It marked Woods’ fifth green jacket and 15th major, putting him only three behind Nicklaus for the all-time mark.

On the PGA Tour, Woods has matched Snead’s achievement twice of winning a single event eight times at the aforementioned Bridgestone Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

With the news of Woods’ car accident in February 2021, making a comeback has been a goal of the Cypress, Calif. native to try and surpass Snead to get that elusive 83rd victory. We have seen him compete since the accident, most notably at the major tournaments as a result of on-going health issues.

Woods still wants that elusive 83rd victory as he looks to get try and get back on top at least one more time.

It is yet to be seen for Woods to get in 72 holes in four days to win in a fashion, comparable to Hogan, in order to become golf’s all-time PGA Tour wins leader. He has played four rounds in a tournament but not to a level of being in contention on Sunday.

Matt Fitzgerald originally wrote this article. Subsequent updates have been done by Breven Honda and Sportsnaut editors.

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