The PGA Tour season typically runs from September until the Tour Championship the following August and includes roughly 50 tournaments. While most tournaments carry first-place prizes of more than $1 million, none are considered as prestigious as the four major championships: the Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and Open Championship, formerly known as the British Open.
Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Gene Sarazen are the only five golfers in history to win each of the four major championships. Nicklaus and Woods rank first and second, respectively, in all-time major championship victories, while Hogan and Player are tied for fourth with Walter Hagen. Sarazen is tied for seventh all-time with Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, and Harry Vardon.
An 18-time major championship winner, Nicklaus has won the Masters Tournament six times; the PGA Championship five times; the U.S. Open four times; and the British Open three times. He won his first major championship at the 1962 U.S. Open, following a playoff victory over Palmer. At 22 years old, he became the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923.
Nicklaus won the PGA Championship and Masters Tournament the following year and completed the career grand slam with a victory at the 1966 British Open. He won major championships spanning three decades, with his last victory occurring at the Masters Tournament in 1986. Nicklaus also finished as runner-up in 19 major championships and was among the top five finishers in a record 56 majors.
Woods, meanwhile, won his first major championship at the Masters Tournament in 1997 in dominant fashion. He scored the lowest four-round total (270) in tournament history, breaking the record of 271, which was previously shared by Nicklaus (1965) and Ray Floyd (1976). He also became the youngest champion in Masters history at 21 years old and set another 18 tournament records, many of which still stand.
Woods won his first of four PGA Championships in 1999 and completed the career grand slam the following year with victories at the U.S. Open and British Open. He won the 2008 U.S. Open and went 11 years without a major championship victory until winning the Masters for the fifth time in 2019. He now has 15 major championships.
Hogan and Player have each won nine major championships. Walter Hagen, who ranks third in all-time major victories, was never able to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam. Hogan achieved that distinction in 1953 with an especially impressive season: he won the U.S. Open, Masters, and British Open, becoming the first golfer to win at least three major championships in a single year. Player won his first major at the 1959 British Open and completed the career grand slam with a victory at the 1965 U.S. Open.
Sarazen is a seven-time major championship winner whom many credit with creating the sand wedge during the early 1930s. He won the PGA Championship and U.S. Open in 1922, but won only one major (the 1923 PGA Championship) over the next 10 years. Sarazen won the 1932 British Open and completed the grand slam by winning the Masters Tournament in 1935. He was the first golfer to achieve this rare feat.