Golfers with most runner-up finishes at Major Championships

Published 30/09/2009 08:30:00

Now every golf fan worth his salt knows Jack Nicklaus is the man when it comes to winning majors - 18 wins, his last coming in 1986. Most know Tiger is only 4 behind and gaining every year, well ok he never won one this year but we'll let him off.

Maybe you know about Walter Hagen's 11 "big ones" or Gary Player and Ben Hogan sitting pretty on 9.

But if second place is first loser, who are the most successful losers in golf? Take a look, you may be surprised.


Golfers with most second places in majors

1. Jack Nicklaus - 19
2. Greg Norman, Tom Watson - 8
4. Sam Snead - 7
T5. Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Ben Hogan, Phil Mickelson, Byron Nelson, Gary Player, Harry Vardon - 6
T12. Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer - 5
16. Billy Casper - 4
T17. Seve Ballesteros, David Duval, Sergio Garcia, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Tom Kite, Gene Sarazen - 3


Golfers with most major wins

1. Jack Nicklaus - 18
2. Tiger Woods - 14
3. Walter Hagen - 11
T4. Ben Hogan, Gary Player - 9
6. Tom Watson - 8
T7. Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Harry Vardon -7
T12. Nick Faldo, Lee Trevino - 6
T14. Seve Ballesteros, James Braid, Byron Nelson, J.H. Taylor, Peter Thomson - 5
T19. Willie Anderson Jr., Jim Barnes, Raymond Floyd, Bobby Locke, Tom Morris Jr., Tom Morris Sr., Willie Park Sr. - 4



Jack is the best golfer of all time - dominating both lists. He actually finished second more often than first. EIther way, he's the king of golf for a while yet.

Tiger isn't too far away on the wins but hasn't been in contention as much as Jack. You could take this two ways - either he's better at converting winning opportunities or that he hasn't challenged as much when his game hasn't been 100%.

Greg Norman is effectively the biggest choker of all time. Turn half of his seconds into wins (which he really should have) and he'd be one of the all-time greats.

Tom Watson took joint second place on the runners-up list with his heroics at the 2009 British Open.

Sam Snead won as many as he finished second in.

Poor old Sergio Garcia has been close three times but has yet to life a major.


1.  19 second places is pretty amazing.

comment by kristoffer - 12/12/2009 16:47

2.  Surely Big Monty should be on the list of second place major finishes!

comment by The Scamster - 19/06/2011 14:54

3.  when you look at jack's 18 majors and his 19 runner up,s you have to say he is the best of all time. even if tiger passes jack's 18 wins with only 6 runner up's, jack is still the best ever

comment by mickey - 09/03/2013 22:21

4.  Arnold Palmer has 10 runner-up finishes .... US Open 62-63-66-67, Masters 61-65, PGA 64-68-70, British Open 1960.

comment by Mark Nichols - 16/07/2013 15:46

5.  Perhaps part of Jack's 2nd place stats speak more to the strength of the field in today's game. If your game is just a little off, I think you sink pretty far down the leader board. In Jack's day, he could still compete when his game was a little off.

comment by Eric Johnson - 11/08/2014 23:33

6.  Also, Nicklaus finished one shot out of a playoff on four occasions - 1963 & 1975 Opens, 1977 PGA, and 1979 Masters.

comment by Wade - 27/08/2014 18:11

7.  mark shaw biography on nicklaus major wins.and his runner ups as well


comment by christopher saunders - 31/08/2014 16:10

8.  What I find AMUSING is that white people say Jordan is better than LeBron because Jordan never lost a Finals. This was supposed to mean Jordan was "clutch", which means he "didn't choke"> Nicklaus basically batted .500 when he had a chance to win, while Tiger NEVER gave up a lead. Rather than arguing that Tiger was more clutch like you all argue for Jordan, you rather turn around and argue that Nicklaus was better BECAUSE he choked more often. Go figure.

comment by Eng E - 22/05/2015 00:03

9.  If you made a list of top ten golfers of all time, most of them would come from Jack's era. To be first or second 37 times in majors is unreal. Easily the greatest that ever played!!!!!

comment by Perry Solomon - 06/09/2015 02:31

10.  From what I've read, Jack was in the top three in majors a record 46 times, so you can add nine 3rd place finishes as well. Just unreal! I loved what Tiger did for a bit over a decade, but there's no competition for the best, most consistent golfer ever. Jack by a mile!

I would equate the 2nd place argument not with Jordan-LeBron but with Brady-Montana instead: are you better off being undefeated in super bowls (4-0) than you are going to seven of them (5-2)? I don't think so personally. You are better off going as far as you can in each competitive event/season that you can. I'm sure Joe Montana didn't like getting eliminated by the Redskins, Giants etc. which denied him other super bowl appearances. Agree?

comment by T Blake - 19/06/2017 10:51

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