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The Best Masters Winners

The Best Masters Winners

The Best Masters Winners

Our 2nd Swing Golf Blog writer Matt Noyes ranks the best Masters winners and argues for a top-six only list.

Let’s face it; making a “best of list” for pretty much anything is ultimately subjective and ripe for debate. When it comes to sports, lists just come with the territory.

From box scores to score cards, we attempt to order, organize and measure everything via some kind of hierarchy — simply, a list.

Rather than settling the argument, the best of list usually reveals the biases and prejudices of the individual stating his or her case. We wave the numbers around like they actually mean something, but most of us are conditioned to understand that statistics and context are easier to shape than a sweeping fade or a high draw. Still, a “best of” list is a discussion that doesn’t necessarily require definitive answers. 

When it comes to the Masters, the real winner is the golf course, Augusta National.

That’s just one of the beautiful things about golf and the best Masters winners. The course really is the ultimate competitor. It shows up every year, ready to challenge the best players in the world and almost invariably, the course comes out on top. Sure, somebody is going to put on the green jacket and claim a ridiculous purse. But no matter how great the display of skill, creativity and resolve, Augusta still manages to humble the greatest of champions.

Below is my take on the Masters champions who could be considered “the best.” I left it at six and invite you to tear my list apart and state your case (And, yes, I also understand my favorites are from the modern era.).

Please do, argue in our comments section below! 

Also, after all, each year’s tournament ushers in the opportunity to add to the list:


Jack Nicklaus winning his fifth Masters in ’86 at age 46.

1. Jack Nicklaus —  Six wins, 22 top-10’s, 15-top fives and four runner-ups. From 1970 to 1979, Jack finished in the top-10 each year and won twice, including a wire-to-wire demolishing in 1972.


Tiger Woods arrived on the scene in memorable fashion at the ’96 Masters (Pictured with Nick Faldo.).

2. Tiger Woods — Tiger became the youngest Masters champion at age 21 by dominating the field and winning by 12 strokes in 1996. And the — still — No. 1 player still has four wins, two runner-ups. Tiger has finished outside the top-five only seven times in 18 Masters appearances.


Arnold Palmer after his famous wire-to-wire ’60 Masters win.

3. Arnold Palmer — Arnold never finished outside the top-10 from 1957 to 1967. He won four green jackets in that stretch and pulled off a legendary wire-to-wire win in 1960. 


Back-to-back Masters champ Nick Faldo made his mark on Augusta.

4. Nick Faldo — Faldo’s got three green jackets with back-to-back victories in 1989 and 1990.


Gary Player played brilliantly to take the ’78 Masters.

5. Gary Player —  Three green jackets and 15 top-10s.


Phil Mickelson creates the awkward “Lefty leap” at the 2004 Masters.

6. Phil Mickelson — Three green jackets and 10 top fives. Also, who can forget the best/worst victory celebration with the Lefty leap in 2004.

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