Biggest blowout wins in golf major history

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June 10, 2019
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Biggest blowout wins in golf major history

Winning one of the four major championships in golf places players on an elite list shared by a precious few at the top of the game. Winning multiple majors shrinks that elite list even further. But the most rarified air belongs to the legendary golfers who not only won a major but did so in dominating fashion.

Since 1950, there have been around two dozen epic major golf victories where the top place finisher simply decimated the field. With some minor exceptions, the list is a veritable who's who of golf royalty that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, and Arnold Palmer.

To learn which players had the most dominant victories in majors history, Stacker scoured data from the PGA Tour from 1950 to the 2019 PGA Championship. The list is ranked by the highest stroke difference between the winner and the runner-up, and ties were broken by the most recent tournament.

The end result is a list of the greatest golfers in the world who destroyed their competition in ways no others have ever done. This is a collection of the biggest blowouts by the very best, how they did it, where they won, and the legacies they left behind.

You may also like: Biggest comeback wins in golf major history

#25. 1953 Masters

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Ben Hogan (274)
- Runner-up: Ed Oliver (279)

Ben Hogan wanted revenge. Not against any one player in particular, but against Augusta National Golf Course. Hogan previously won the Masters in 1951 and was well on his way to repeating in '52 when he collapsed by shooting a 79 in the final round. Heading into the '53 Masters, Hogan wasn't about to let the previous year's letdown get to him. As a result, Hogan shot 14-under for the tournament, beating the then-tournament record by five strokes and beating his nearest competitor, Ed Oliver, by five strokes, as well. Hogan was so good in 1953, that he also won the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

#24. 1964 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Tony Lema (279)
- Runner-up: Jack Nicklaus (284)

Tony Lema's Open Championship win in 1964 was truly remarkable. The tournament was played at St. Andrews, affectionately known as the Old Course, and considered to be the oldest course in the world. Lema's win was out of left field because he'd never stepped foot on the course before. He also borrowed Arnold Palmer's caddy for the event. And he wound up beating Jack Nicklaus by five strokes to secure the title. Unfortunately for Lema, it was the only major win of his career; he lost his life in a plane crash in 1966.

#23. 1986 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Greg Norman (280)
- Runner-up: Gordon Brand (285)

Located in Scotland, 50 miles south of Glasgow, Trump Turnberry (as it's now owned by Donald Trump) has hosted The Open Championship four times—in 1977, 1986, 1994, and 2009. Heading into the '86 Championship, Australian golfer Greg Norman was on a mission. He had held the 54-hole lead at the Masters and the U.S. Open, only to lose both in the last round of 1986 (he also held the 54-hole lead at the PGA Championship that year and lost as well). But The Open Championship was Norman's official coming out party as he not only won his first major, he won it by five strokes over Gordon Brand and was the only player in the entire tournament to not shoot over par.

#22. 1990 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Nick Faldo (270)
- Runners-up: Mark McNulty, Payne Stewart (275)

The Open Championship has been played at St. Andrews in Scotland 29 times, with the first outing in 1873. By the time the championship rolled around in 1990, the tournament record was 13-under, shot by Tom Watson in 1977. English golfer Nick Faldo was on a roll entering the tournament in 1990, having already won the Masters and finishing third at the U.S. Open. And his great play continued at the Old Course, as Faldo finished at 18-under par, shattering the tournament record and beating Mark McNulty and Payne Stewart by a whopping five strokes.

#21. 1996 Masters

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Nick Faldo (276)
- Runner-up: Greg Norman (281)

The 1996 Masters Championship is known for both the biggest comeback in tournament history in addition to the biggest collapse. Heading into the final round, Greg Norman was 13-under and leading the tournament by six strokes over Nick Faldo. The two golfers played together in the final group as Norman withered, shooting 78, and Faldo thrived, shooting 67 for his third green jacket. The result was a lopsided five-stroke victory for Faldo and the seventh runner-up finish for Norman in major championships.

#20. 1997 PGA Championship

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Davis Love III (269)
- Runner-up: Justin Leonard (274)

By almost any measure, Davis Love III has had a stellar golf career, with one exception: his record in major championships. The 1997 PGA Championship was played at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, a course known for hosting numerous U.S. Opens. Love came into the tournament as one of the best players in the world to have never won a major, but that changed quickly. He darted out to a lead after the first round, and the momentum carried throughout as he closed the weekend with back-to-back 66's and beat Justin Leonard by five strokes for his first and only major victory.

#19. 2005 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Tiger Woods (274)
- Runner-up: Colin Montgomerie (279)

Tiger Woods was already familiar with the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, as he won The Open Championship there when it was held in 2000. Woods was a heavy favorite going into the tournament in 2005 for another reason—he had already won the Masters that year, in addition to two other tournaments before the start of the Open Championship. Woods made quick work of the course, shooting 14-under and fending off second-place finisher and local favorite Colin Montgomerie by five shots.

#18. 2006 PGA Championship

- Margin of victory: 5
- Winner: Tiger Woods (270)
- Runner-up: Shaun Micheel (275)

Like so many other tournaments, Tiger Woods has a history of winning on the same golf course over and over. That trend held at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club in Illinois where Woods had won the previous PGA Championship held there in 1999. In 2006, Woods shot all four rounds in the 60s, finished at 18-under—tying the course record—and netting his then-12th major victory.

#17. 1953 U.S. Open

- Margin of victory: 6
- Winner: Ben Hogan (283)
- Runner-up: Sam Snead (289)

Ben Hogan's PGA season in 1953 was one of the greatest of all time. Hogan won the Masters, the U.S. Open, and The Open Championship, and the only reason he didn't have a chance to win the PGA Championship was because it was happening at the same time as the British Open. The '53 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in Western Pennsylvania was one of Hogan's finest achievements. He led the tournament wire-to-wire and bested his biggest rival, Sam Snead, by six strokes. Hogan was the only golfer in the world to ever win three majors in a year until Tiger Woods accomplished the same feat in 2000.

#16. 1962 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 6
- Winner: Arnold Palmer (276)
- Runner-up: Kel Nagle (282)

Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland has hosted The Open Championship nine times and the 1962 event was one of its finest. Going into the tournament, Arnold Palmer was already on a roll. The year 1962 was enormous for the legend as he won eight tournaments, including the Masters, and was the defending champion at The Open Championship. He didn't lead wire to wire, but after the first round, Palmer torched the rest of the field to win the event by six strokes, shooting 12-under and cementing the tournament scoring record at the time.

#15. 1964 Masters

- Margin of victory: 6
- Winner: Arnold Palmer (276)
- Runners-up: Dave Marr, Jack Nicklaus (282)

There was just something about every other year at the Masters for Arnold Palmer. Winner in 1958, 1960, and 1962, Palmer entered the 1964 tournament looking to become the first four-time winner of the event and continue his even-year streak. The event, played at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Ga., was more of a formality for Palmer. He not only earned his fourth green jacket, he led every round of the tournament, and nearly set the Masters scoring record along the way.

#14. 1976 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 6
- Winner: Johnny Miller (279)
- Runners-up: Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus (285)

Johnny Miller was a virtuoso. But his meteoric rise to the top of golf in the 1970s was short-lived and ended with his last victory of the decade at The Open Championship in 1976. The event took place at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in England, a legendary venue that has hosted The Open 10 times. Trailing by two strokes to 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros going into the fourth round, Miller shot a 66—a course record at the time—to Ballesteros's 74, leapfrogging the young man and winning the event by six strokes.

#13. 1994 PGA Championship

- Margin of victory: 6
- Winner: Nick Price (269)
- Runner-up: Corey Pavin (275)

The 76th PGA Championship was played at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., in 1994. Before the start of the tournament, Nick Price was dominating the PGA Tour. He was PGA Player of the Year in 1993 and 1994, and he was coming off a win at The Open Championship just a few weeks before the PGA. Price's golfing brilliance continued, leading the event wire-to-wire, shooting an 11-under 269 and setting the tournament record (it was broken a year later). After the win, Price was ranked #1 in the world, a position he held for 44 weeks.

#12. 1955 Masters

- Margin of victory: 7
- Winner: Cary Middlecoff (279)
- Runner-up: Ben Hogan (286)

The Masters is often considered the crown jewel of golf, and the tournament has been played at the same course, Augusta National, since its inception in 1934. In 1955, World Golf Hall of Famer Cary Middlecoff dominated the tournament, ending a four-year run during which the green jacket was simply handed back and forth between Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. Middlecoff didn't just win, however, he destroyed the field beating runner-up Hogan by seven strokes and third-place finisher Snead by eight.

#11. 1970 U.S. Open

- Margin of victory: 7
- Winner: Tony Jacklin (281)
- Runner-up: Dave Hill (288)

Before the 1970 U.S. Open, a U.S.-born golfer had won 38 of the previous 39 championships with the only blip coming from South African Gary Player in 1965. Not only that, the most recent British winner was in 1925. English player Tony Jacklin wanted that trend to end, and end it he did, in dramatic fashion. The tournament was played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., considered one of the hardest in the United States. But it didn't seem to bother Jacklin, as he was the only player to finish under par, winning wire-to-wire and finishing ahead of Dave Hill by seven strokes.

#10. 1980 PGA Championship

- Margin of victory: 7
- Winner: Jack Nicklaus (274)
- Runner-up: Andy Bean (281)

By 1980, most experts believed that Jack Nicklaus was past his prime. His most recent major championship wins were in 1975 and 1978, and he hadn't won a regular season event since 1978, either. The year 1980 looked to be more of the same until he pulled off an improbable win at the U.S. Open. The PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., was only a couple months later and Nicklaus did it again. This win was special though; he crushed the field by seven strokes, was the only player to finish under par, and officially silenced his critics from writing his golfing epitaph.

#9. 2010 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 7
- Winner: Louis Oosthuizen (272)
- Runner-up: Lee Westwood (279)

The 2010 Open Championship was back at St. Andrews in Scotland and this time the course played easier than usual. A total of 73 players finished under par and Rory McIlroy tied the course record with a 63 in the first round. But in the end, it was South African Louis Oosthuizen who took home the claret jug, shooting 16-under par and beating Lee Westwood by seven. The win was made even more special because it coincided with South African leader Nelson Mandela's 92nd birthday.

#8. 1976 Masters

- Margin of victory: 8
- Winner: Raymond Floyd (271)
- Runner-up: Ben Crenshaw (279)

Even with legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus nipping at his heels, nothing was going to slow down Raymond Floyd at the 1976 Masters. From the start, Floyd jumped out to a lead, shooting 65 and 66 (then the 36-hole course record). His last two rounds were more of a formality as he finished at a 17-under 271, tying the then-tournament record with Jack Nicklaus and winning his only green jacket by a whopping eight strokes.

#7. 2000 Open Championship

- Margin of victory: 8
- Winner: Tiger Woods (269)
- Runners-up: Thomas Bjørn, Ernie Els (277)

Tiger Woods owns many golfing records and by winning the 2000 Open Championship, he added more notches to his belt. The tournament was held at St. Andrews in Scotland on The Old Course and Woods simply blitzkrieged the field. Winning the tournament by eight strokes, Woods shot 19-under par, which was then a record for all major championships. He also became the youngest player ever to win all four golf majors, and joined an elite class of players to achieve the career slam that only includes Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Gene Sarazen.

#6. 2011 U.S. Open

- Margin of victory: 8
- Winner: Rory McIlroy (268)
- Runner-up: Jason Day (276)

Rory McIlroy won his first golf major in style, announcing to the world that he was the guy to beat. Playing at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., McIlroy was just coming off an epic collapse in the fourth round of the Masters. History would not repeat itself, though. By winning the 2011 U.S. Open by eight strokes, McIlroy set a number of records. He set the U.S. Open record by shooting 16-under. He was the youngest winner of the event since 1923. And he was only the fourth golfer in the Open's history of the to shoot all four rounds in the 60s.

#5. 2012 PGA Championship

- Margin of victory: 8
- Winner: Rory McIlroy (275)
- Runner-up: David Lynn (283)

Making sure his 2011 win at the U.S. Open wasn't a fluke, Rory McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship in epic style as well. The 94th PGA was played at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina and had a stacked field with favorites like Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, and Vijay Singh stalking the leaderboard. None of that mattered, though, as McIlroy shot 13-under for an eight-stroke win, which set a record for largest margin of victory at the PGA. McIlroy also became the second-youngest player ever to win two majors.

#4. 2014 U.S. Open

- Margin of victory: 8
- Winner: Martin Kaymer (271)
- Runners-up: Erik Compton, Rickie Fowler (279)

The U.S. Open is supposed to play tougher than any other tournament in golf. The rough is thicker, the fairways narrower, and the bunkers deeper. None of that seemed to matter to Martin Kaymer in 2014. The '14 Open was played at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina and in typical fashion, the field of pros struggled to break par. The German-born Kaymer not only broke par, he was one of only three players to accomplish that, won by eight strokes, led wire-to-wire, and set the 36-hole record at the Open.

#3. 1965 Masters

- Margin of victory: 9
- Winner: Jack Nicklaus (271)
- Runners-up: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player (280)

Jack Nicklaus is the king of the Masters. He's won the tournament six times and owns countless records. But nothing matched what he did in 1965. Not only did the Golden Bear win, he won by a then-record of nine strokes, set a then-record of 17-under, and recorded the tournament record by shooting a 64 in the third round, which also has since been surpassed.

#2. 1997 Masters

- Margin of victory: 12
- Winner: Tiger Woods (270)
- Runner-up: Tom Kite (282)

The 1997 Masters was Tiger Woods' announcement to the world: everyone had better watch out. Woods won his first major at Augusta National and is the reason why all of Jack Nicklaus's records no longer stand. Woods won the '97 Masters by 12 strokes, setting the record for largest margin of victory in any major (at the time) and at the Masters, which still stands. In addition to the scoring records, Woods also became the youngest person ever to win the tournament and the first nonwhite player to win the coveted green jacket.

#1. 2000 U.S. Open

- Margin of victory: 15
- Winner: Tiger Woods (272)
- Runners-up: Ernie Els, Miguel Angel Jiménez (287)

If the 1997 Masters was Tiger Woods' pièce de résistance, then his 2000 U.S. Open was his magnum opus. Playing at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California, Woods won his first U.S. Open by decimating the rest of the field by 15 strokes. Woods finished at 12-under and his closest competitors were three-over causing many to wonder if they were playing in two different tournaments. The margin of victory is a record that holds to this day and is considered the most dominant performance in major championship history. In the year 2000, Woods also won the Masters and The Open Championship, along with six additional PGA events.

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