10 Oldest Golfers to Win a Major

The Major Championships, typically called the majors, consist of four different tournaments: The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship (called the British Open in the U.S.), and the PGA Championship. Winning a major is hard and its even harder to do when you’re over 32 – the average age of a golf major champion according to the PGA. Ever single one of the golfers on this list was in his 40s when he won a major championship, making all of them a decade older than the average. These men proved that youth is not necessary to take home a trophy.

10. Ted Ray (April 6, 1877 – August 26, 1943)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 43 years, 4 months, 16 days
Tournament:  1920 U.S. Open
Country of Origin:  Grouville, Bailiwick of Jersey, Channel Islands
Total Majors Won:  2

Ted Rayphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

Although Ted Ray is considered an early golf legend, he is one of the only great golfers from the early 20th century not inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ray won the 1912 Open Championship and the 1920 U.S. Open. He was also the captain of the British Team at the very first Ryder Cup tournament in 1927.

Ray became a professional golfer sometime in the mid-1890s and competed in his first major tournament at the 1899 Open Tournament. In 1913, Ray famously competed against Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet in an 18-hole playoff during the U.S. Open. Ouimet ended up winning and in 2005 Disney made a movie about the 1913 U.S. Open, titled The Greatest Game Ever Played.

9. Raymond Floyd (September 4, 1942 – Present)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 43 years, 9 months, 11 days
Tournament:  1986 U.S. Open
Country of Origin:  Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA
Total Majors Won:  4

Raymond Floydphoto source:  Golf Digest

Raymond Floyd had a very long PGA Tour career, which lasted for over 40 years. During his career, Floyd won 22 PGA Tour tournaments, including two PGA Championships, as well as one U.S. Open and one Masters Tournament. The only major that Floyd did not win was the British Open. Floyd is one of only two golfers – the other is Sam Snead – to win official events in four different decades.

Floyd had always been athletically talented and almost became a professional baseball player when he was asked to pitch for the Cleveland Indians. After declining the offer, Floyd briefly attended college, but left to pursue a career in professional golf. Floyd was entered into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.

8. Harry Vardon (May 9, 1870 – March 20, 1937)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 44 years, 41 days
Tournament:  1914 Open Championship
Country of Origin:  Grouville, Bailiwick of Jersey, Channel Islands
Total Majors Won:  7

Harry Vardonphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Harry Vardon is remembered as one of the members of the Great Triumvirate, along with Henry Taylor and James Braid – the trio were best British golfers of their era. Vardon won the British Open six times, the most in tournament’s history, a record which still stands today. Additionally, Vardon is known for inventing the widely used Vardon Grip, in which the little finger of the right hand is rested on top of the index finger of the left hand.

Unlike most golfers at the time, Vardon was self-taught and did not play golf seriously until he saw his younger brother Tom become a professional golfer. Vardon was also a trendsetter, he was the first golfer to play in knickers (baggy-kneed trousers), fancy-topped stockings, a hard collar and tie, and a  tightly buttoned jacket. In 1974, Vardon was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

7. Roberto De Vincenzo (April 14, 1923 – June 1, 2017)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 44 years, 93 days
Tournament:  1967 Open Championship
Country of Origin:  Villa Ballester, Argentina
Total Majors Won:  1

Roberto De Vincenzophoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Roberto De Vincenzo, who is one of the greatest international golfers ever, is ironically better known for his loss at the 1968 Masters Tournament. De Vincenzo was very close to winning the Masters that year but made a fatal mistake, he signed his scorecard without realizing that he had written down a par instead of a birdie on the 17th hole. This led De Vincezo to exclaim, “What a stupid I am!”, which became a legendary quote.

While De Vincenzo may not have lost out on a major win, throughout his career he did win over 230 tournaments. Most notably, De Vincenzo’s career included tournament wins across the world in countries such as Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Holland, France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela and his home country Argentina. De Vincenzo was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.

6. Lee Trevino (December 1, 1939 – Present)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 44 years, 8 months, 18 days
Tournament:  1984 PGA Championship
Country of Origin:  Dallas, Texas, USA
Total Majors Won:  6

Lee Trevinophoto source: Flickr via Keith Allison

While every golfer on this list worked hard to get to the top, perhaps none of them had to work as hard as Lee Trevino, who grew up in a run-down shack in Dallas, Texas. As a child, Trevino lived in poverty and unlike the other other players on this list, Trevino did not come from a long line of golfers.

Trevino worked his way from the bottom; he started out collecting golf balls as a kid for a few bucks at the Dallas Athletic Club near his house and eventually became a caddie. This is where Trevino learned to play golf and discovered that he had a killer instinct for the game. After spending a few years in the military, where he golfed with officers, Trevino jumped right back into golf and went professional in the 1960s. In 1981, Trevino became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and is considered one of the greatest golfers in history.

5. Hale Irwin (June 3, 1945 – Present)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 45 years, 15 days
Tournament:  1990 U.S. Open
Country of Origin:  Joplin, Missouri, USA
Total Majors Won:  3

Hale Irwinphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1990, Hale Irwin became the oldest golfer to win the U.S. Open. Irwin’s win was even more notable because it was the fist sudden-death finish ever in the U.S. Open – Irwin had tied with Mike Donald on the 18th hole but ended up with a birdie on the on the 19th hole and took home the win. Irwin was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame two years later.

At the height of his career, Irwin won 86 consecutive tournaments in the PGA Tour from 1975 – 1978 without missing a cut, putting him just behind Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Irwin’s 1990 major win is even more special because he had not won a single tournament on the PGA Tour in five years.

4. Jerry Barber (April 25, 1916 – September 23, 1994)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 45 years, 3 months, 6 days
Tournament:  1961 PGA Championship
Country of Origin:  Woodson, Illinois, USA
Total Majors Won:  1

Jerry Barberphoto source: Pinterest

Jerry Barber may not be as famous as some of the other golfers on this list, but winning a major a the age of 45 is great accomplishment. Barber first went pro in 1940 but did not become a full-time member of the PGA Tour until 1948. He stayed with the PGA Tour until 1962 and during that time Barber had seven wins, including the PGA Championship in 1961. Barber is the oldest first time major winner.

Following his time with the PGA Tour, Barber became a club professional for the Griffith Park Golf Club. Every so often, Barber would play in official PGA Tour events and in 1994 Barber became the oldest golfer to play on the PGA Tour at the age of 77 years, 10 months, and nine days. Barber passed away not long after the 1994 Buick Invitational.

3. Jack Nicklaus (January 21, 1940 – Present)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 46 years, 2 months, 23 days
Tournament:  1986 Masters Tournament
Country of Origin:  Columbus, Ohio, USA
Total Majors Won:  18

Jack Nicklausphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Jack Nicklaus, nicknamed The Golden Bear, is one of the most prolific players in golf history. With 18 victories (six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, and three British Opens), Nicklaus holds the record for the most major wins and has played in a record 154 consecutive major championships. Nicklaus is widely considered to be the greatest golfer of all time.

Nicklaus started his professional career in 1962, but was already an impressive player as an amateur. Besides being the greatest golfer in history, Nicklaus is also a renowned golf course designer. He has been personally involved in the design of more than 290 golf courses, while his business, Nicklaus Design, has worked on more than 410 courses around the world.

2. Old Tom Morris (June 16, 1821 – May 24, 1908)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 46 years, 99 days
Tournament:  1867 Open Championship
Country of Origin:  St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Total Majors Won:  4

Old Tom Morrisphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Old Tom Morris (Tom Morris Sr.) is an iconic golf legend and is considered the founding father of the sport. Morris was involved with golf in some capacity for his entire adult life. After leaving school in 1837, Morris spent 12 years making golf balls as a apprentice to Allan Robetson, the world’s first professional golfer.

Morris eventually left his home in St. Andrews and became the custodian of the newly formed Prestwick Golf Club, which founded the British Open in 1860. In addition to being one of the best golfers in history, Morris was a pioneer in golf course design. Morris is credited with making the 18-hole golf course a standard. Over the length of his career, Morris won four major championships and designed over 75 golf courses.

1. Julius Boros (March 3, 1920 – May 28, 1994)

Oldest Age at Time of Major Win: 48 years, 4 months, 18 days
Tournament:  1968 PGA Championship
Country of Origin:  Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
Total Majors Won:  3

Julius Borosphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Legendary American golfer Julius Boros was nearly 50 years old when he won the 1968 PGA Championship, making Boros the oldest golfer in the world to win a major. Before going pro at the age of 29, Boros worked as an accountant and worked hard to overcome having a bad heart.

It only took a few years for Boros to rise to the top and between 1952 – 1968, Boros won 18 tournaments, including three major championships. Boros was technically skilled and never strained when he played, which led to his long career. Even after retiring from professional golf, Boros loved the game so much that he died on a golf course near his home in 1994. In 1982, Boros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.



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