Worst Players to Have Won a Major

On the PGA Tour, luck and a week of brilliance can net you a major championship. Who were the worst golfers to experience the amazing synergy?

Trap Five LogoLast week we took a look at the best players to have won only one major. The list included the likes of Toms Kite and Lehman, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, and Phil Mickelson.

This week we’re going to switch gears a bit and talk about the worst players to have won a major. Of course, to even play in a major, you’ve got to be a good golfer – hacks aren’t invited to The Masters or the British Open, you see – so we’re not begrudging anyone their abilities. However, we are looking at their careers compared to their fellow PGA Tour major winners. These, then, are the worst players to have been great at least once.

Number Five: Andy North
Andy North earns special distinction as the only player on this list to have won multiple majors. North has both the 1978 U.S. Open and the 1985 U.S. Open to his credit along with the 1977 American Express Westchester Classic. Despite starting 89 times on the Champions Tour, North has yet to win a tournament, instead focusing much of his energy on commentating and broadcasting. Fortunately for viewers, his commentary and analysis is better than his play.

Number Four: Ian Baker-Finch
Like Andy North, Ian Baker-Finch has made a successful second career in broadcasting and analysis. Baker-Finch won 12 times internationally (including several in his native Australia), but notched only two PGA Tour victories. His lone major came in the 1991 British Open Championship. Ian would finish first only twice afterwards, and neither time on the PGA Tour, where his lone victory came in the 1989 Southwestern Bell Colonial. Baker-Finch was on top of the golf world in 1991, and the sky was the limit. Unfortunately, much like David Duval, Baker-Finch promptly lost his game and had difficulties breaking 80 in a PGA Tour event.

Number Three: Larry Mize
Larry Mize, famous for his 140-foot chip-in on the second playoff hole at Augusta National to beat Greg Norman out of the 1987 Masters title, won only four times on the PGA Tour. Outside of The Masters, the career year for this long-time Tour journeyman came in 1993 when he won twice – at the Northern Telecom Open and the Buick Open – to rack up his only post-Masters victories. Currently in 206th place on the 2005 PGA Tour money list, and with a best finish of T20 at the Sony Open, his best finish since a T21 at the 2004 Honda Classic and a T17 at the 2001 LaCantera Texas Open. Mize is 1-3 in PGA Tour playoffs.

Number Two: Claude Harmon
Claude Harmon may most famously be known as the father of Craig, Dick, Bill, and of course Butch Harmon, but he did win a tournament or two. Hmmm, make that a tournament – the 1948 Masters. Harmon, playing as a club pro in that tournament, earned his only PGA Tour victory by tying the tournament-record score of 9-under 279 and besting second-place finisher Dr. Cary Middlecoff by five shots.

Number One: Orville Moody
Orville Moody has exactly one PGA Tour victory to his credit: the 1969 U.S. Open. After teaching golf in the Army for 13 years, Moody ventured on tour to capture perhaps the most prestigious major for an American-born player, and then promptly fell back to the middle of the pack for the rest of his career.

Moody nearly won two other times, but his record in playoffs is 0-for-2 in PGA Tour events. Moody had a bit more success on the Champions Tour, winning 11 times between 1984 and 1992, and three times internationally from 1984 to 1988. He bettered his 0-2 record in Champions Tour playoffs by a mark of 3-4. Of course, Moody started in over 500 Champions Tour events, yielding a fairly abysmal winning percentage of 2%.

Just Missing the Cut
Steve Jones won the 1996 U.S. Open, but has managed only seven other victories on the PGA Tour. His win in 1996 was unlikely, but eight victories – including some at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Tournament of Champions – excluded Jones from making the list.

Bill Rogers won the 1981 British Open but only five times outside of that. His 1981 season was by far his best and included three other victories – the Sea Pines Heritage, the World Series of Golf, and the Texas Open.

Mark Brooks has won seven times on the PGA Tour, but his lone major came in the 1996 PGA Championship along with two other victories: the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and the Shell Houston Open. “Brooksie” hasn’t been heard from much since.

David Duval, who missed the cut last week as well, sure can’t claim that he’s a “good golfer” these days. His success came prior to his tournament victory.

Tommy Aaron, best known for his temper, won the 1973 Masters. Following a successful amateur career, many predicted great things for Aaron, but he won only five times as a professional.

Shaun Micheel, Paul Lawrie, Ben Curtis, etc. still have time to prove that they don’t belong on this list.

Next Week
You know you hate them. They’re the five dumbest rules in golf.

11 thoughts on “Worst Players to Have Won a Major”

  1. I think you’d have to consider Tom Lehman for this list, at least among modern players. He put himself in position to win multiple majors, and he had an impressive few Ryder Cups. But he won only a handful of regular tour events, and he never did close the deal on the U.S. Open.

  2. I don’t know how you can put Andy North, who has two US Opens and one other tour win, below Paul Lawrie, who was basically handed his one british open championship, and has not even really come close to sniffing another title.

  3. ERIK,




    No it’s not. It’s to take a look back at history and recognize the occasional fluke. We can complain in modern times about Trevor Immelman winning The Masters, but even he has a stronger pedigree than all of the above. It puts things into perspective.


    None. But had I won a major, I’d have easily made the list.

  5. Speaking of Orville Moody, do you know the full name of his trainer ? (Mr. xxxxx Williams out of Killen Tx; did some work with K. Fergus also as this was Keith’s home town) . In those days we were not on first name basis with our Pros, Even after working with him for nearly 2 years I never knew his first name, frankly I have never thought about it until now…

  6. And here he is on the video section of PGA TOUR.COM

    Fleck talks about winning the 1955 U.S Open (1:35)

  7. Michael Campbell. Has there ever been a greater fall from grace? He’s probably the worst professional under 50 right now and has been for several years.

  8. Sorry this list is terrible. Andy North won 2 majors….not 1, but 2. You can’t include him in this list. I know he only won 3 tournaments, but come on.

    and david duval? He was the #1 ranked golfer in the world during the tiger woods era.

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