As we celebrate 50 years as a golf publication, it presents an ideal opportunity to reflect upon the many wonderful golfers this country has produced. To mark the occasion we rank Australia’s 50 Greatest Golfers of all time.

Of course, it’s problematical to compare a current-day player on the lucrative PGA Tour (who has an entourage of service providers) with post-WWII golfers who traipsed the fairways of Britain. So we have defined Australia’s 50 Greatest Golfers by what they have achieved in open competition against professional and amateurs alike.

Hence, we make no apologies for the absence of many fine amateurs. Some may question the omission of Harry Williams, a four-time Victorian Amateur champion, two-time Australian Amateur winner and runner-up to the great Gene Sarazen at the 1936 Australian Open. Other omissions include lifetime amateurs such as Doug Bachli, Peter Toogood, Tony Gresham and Leonora Wray, the mother of Australian golf.

We looked more favourably at players who achieved success abroad. A prime example is Jim Ferrier, a contemporary of Williams, who sought playing opportunities in America and became Australia’s first winner of a professional Major.

We also factored in playing opportunities. Historically, the Australian circuit provided plenty of opportunities for men, especially Opens and PGAs at state level. But not for women who must now aim towards the super-competitive LPGA Tour given the dearth of four-round tournaments in Australia (and now Europe). That’s why it’s tricky to compare the careers of Ossie Pickworth and Billy Dunk with Rachel Hetherington and Katherine Kirk.

The circumstances upon which a player achieved their relative success have been taken into consideration. For instance, when comparing Adam Scott, whose father was a PGA professional, with that of Kel Nagle, who was largely self-taught. The career of Craig Parry deserves more credence for the manner in which he competed against taller power hitters with greater leverage.

Quality of opposition and depth of field are also factors in this ranking, which we hope generates discussion about Australia’s 50 Greatest Golfers of all time.

50. Nick O’Hern

Tournament victories: 5
Best Major result: T-6th, US Open (2006)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 16th

Beating Tiger Woods at the 2007 WGC–Match Play was a triumph of grit over greatness.
Beating Tiger Woods at the 2007 WGC–Match Play was a triumph of grit over greatness for Nick O’Hern

An unfashionable short-hitter, Nick O’Hern transformed himself into the consummate professional who was a two-time Presidents Cup representative (2005, 2007). In nine seasons on the PGA Tour, O’Hern registered 23 top-10 results and accrued $US7.49 million in prizemoney. While he also captured the 2006 Australian PGA Championship, O’Hern is remembered as the only man to defeat Tiger Woods twice at the WGC–Match Play. Not a bad career for someone who spent his post-school days stacking supermarket shelves in Perth.

49. Margie Masters

Tournament victories: 10
Best Major result: 2nd, Women’s Western Open (1966)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: N/A

Australia’s first winner of an LPGA tournament was a pioneer as an amateur and professional. Margie Masters won five Victorian juniors and five straight women’s Victorian Opens (1959-1963). Her national titles were the 1956 New Zealand Women’s Open, 1957 South African Women’s Open, 1958 Australian Ladies Open and 1964 Canadian Women’s Amateur. Pursuing a pro career in America, she claimed LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1965. Masters won the 1967 Quality Chek’d Classic and 1968 Yankee Ladies’ Team Championship (with Clifford Ann Creed). At the 1966 Women’s Western Open she shared second behind Mickey Wright, who captured her 13th Major.

48. Rod Pampling

Tournament victories: 6
Best Major result: T-5th, Masters (2005)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 22nd 

Pure ball-striker who achieved three PGA Tour victories, including Arnold Palmer’s prestigious Bay Hill Invitational in 2006. Rod Pampling registered 38 top-10s from 407 appearances on the PGA Tour and collected $US16.03 million. Won twice on home soil, including the 2008 Australian Masters. Infamously led the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie after an opening 71 but followed with an 86 to miss the cut. 

47. Wendy Doolan

Tournament victories: 5
Best Major result: 7th, US Women’s Open (2001)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: N/A
Orchestrated one of the great comebacks with a final-round 65 to erase a five-stroke deficit and pip Annika Sorenstam at the 2004 Evian Masters in France. It was the best of Wendy Doolan’s three LPGA Tour titles (equal fifth by an Australian). While it was not considered a Major at that time, the Evian carried the second richest purse in women’s golf. Throughout her LPGA career, Doolan posted 34 top-10 results and earned $US2.96 million. Doolan led the LPGA for average driving distance in 2001 (243.1 metres, 265.9 yards).

46. Mike Harwood

Tournament victories: 34
Best Major result: 2nd, British Open (1991)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 20th 

Came to prominence when he beat world No.1 Greg Norman to win the 1986 Australian PGA Championship by two strokes at Castle Hill. Mike Harwood won five European Tour events in four seasons (1988-1991), the best of which was the 1990 British PGA at Wentworth where he held off Nick Faldo, who had won that year’s Masters and British Open. Harwood capped a superb year by adding the season-ending Volvo Masters and South Australian Open. His defining moment came at the 1991 Open at Royal Birkdale where he fell two strokes shy of compatriot Ian Baker-Finch in his only Major top-10. Harwood had 12 regular tour wins and 22 senior victories.

45. Stephen Leaney

Tournament victories: 16
Best Major result: 2nd, US Open (2003)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 22nd 

Remembered for a gallant second-place finish behind Jim Furyk at the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields in Chicago. While Stephen Leaney fell three strokes shy of the American, he was four clear of third place in his only Major top-10. Leaney won four European Tour titles, two Victorian Opens and nine times in his home state of Western Australia. Won his sixth WA Open at age 48 – 26 years after his first as an amateur. Was a member of the Internationals side that tied the 2003 Presidents Cup.

44. Billy Dunk

Tournament victories: 50
Best Major result: T-35th, British Open (1981)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Acquired a legendary reputation for setting course records, estimated to be more than 80 in pro-ams and professional events. Billy Dunk won five Australian PGAs, four Queensland Opens, four NSW PGAs and two NZ Opens among 40 regular tour titles. Not an avid traveller, just three of those victories were outside Australia and New Zealand. The son of a Gosford greenkeeper made three World Cup appearances.

43. Brendan Jones

Tournament victories: 17
Best Major result: T-24th, PGA Championship (2009)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 52nd 

With 15 victories on the Japan Golf Tour, Brendan Jones is the second-most prolific foreign winner. The Canberra native, who won the 1999 Australian Amateur, has flourished in Japan where his length off the tee has been a huge advantage. In 2004 Jones tackled America when he had a victory and three seconds on the now Korn Ferry Tour from just eight appearances. On the 2005 PGA Tour he was runner-up at the B.C. Open but didn’t retain his card. Jones returned to Japan where he added 11 more titles and took his career earnings there to $13.99 million (ninth all-time).

42. Bob Shearer

Tournament victories: 27
Best Major result: T-7th, British Open (1978)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Universally regarded as one of the nicest people in golf, Bob Shearer won 20 tournaments in Australia and New Zealand and secured the Order of Merit four times (1974, 1977, 1981, 1982). The 1969 Australian Amateur champion’s career took off with three wins in 1974 before winning twice on the 1975 European Tour. Shearer played nine seasons on the PGA Tour and achieved his sole victory at the 1982 Tallahassee Open. Seven months later he claimed the Australian Open at The Australian, beating the great Jack Nicklaus and Payne Stewart by four strokes. Made the cut at 17 Majors, but his only top-10 came at the 1978 Open at St Andrews where he finished four adrift of Nicklaus. Returned to Europe in his 50s and won four Senior Tour events.

41. Eric Cremin

Tournament victories: 28
Best Major result: 16th, British Open (1951)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

A prolific winner in Australia post-WWII, Eric Cremin enjoyed some epic battles with Norman von Nida, Ossie Pickworth and Kel Nagle. Cremin twice completed the double of winning the Australian PGA and NSW PGA (1937, 1938) in his early-20s. But he missed many playing opportunities in his prime (age 25-31) due to WWII. Won 24 tournaments post-war, including the 1949 Australian Open by seven strokes from Von Nida. Cremin was a seven-time runner-up at the Australian PGA in its matchplay format, including three losses to The Von. Cremin rarely travelled to Europe and never played a Major in the US. He is credited with helping to establish the Hong Kong Open in 1959 and subsequently the Far East Circuit.

40. Brett Ogle

Tournament victories: 15
Best Major result: T-11th, British Open (1995)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 44th 

Brett Ogle won two tournaments on the US PGA Tour while anchoring the long putter.

Prodigious ball-striker with the innate ability to launch long irons into the stratosphere and have them land like a butterfly with sore feet. Ogle teased that he could rival Greg Norman, bursting onto the scene as Australasian Rookie of the Year in 1986 and winning a bunch of titles at home and in the South Pacific. In 1990 Ogle tasted victory in Europe and captured the Australian PGA Championship. He was individual medallist at the 1992 World Cup in Spain. Ogle took on America full-time in 1993, winning in just his fourth start as a PGA Tour member at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He would win again 11 months later at the 1994 Hawaiian Open. Sadly, short-game yips led to a premature retirement for an extrovert who made a seamless transition into golf commentary.

39. Katherine Kirk

Tournament victories: 7
Best Major result: 2nd, Women’s British Open (2010)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: 19th

Katherine Kirk has defied the youth generation to be a stalwart of the LPGA Tour with three victories across 17 seasons. In the American college system, she was NCAA Player of the Year in 2003. That year she won her first two events as a professional on the Futures Tour. Under her maiden name of Hull, she won her first LPGA title at the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open, beating Korean superstar Se Ri Pak by a stroke. Her victory at the 2009 Australian Ladies Masters was the best of six ALPG tournament wins. Almost snatched the 2010 Women’s British Open from Yani Tseng and led the 2017 Evian Championship with three holes to play. In 2017 Kirk received the Founders Award for the player “whose behaviour and deeds best exemplifies the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA”.

38. Aaron Baddeley

Tournament victories: 8
Best Major result: 13th, US Open (2007)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 16th 

Aaron Baddeley burst into the spotlight as a precocious 18-year-old when he won the 1999 Australian Open at Royal Sydney. It was a spectacular performance to upstage the likes of Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo and become the first amateur in 39 years to lift the Stonehaven Cup. Baddeley successfully defended the Open as a 19-year-old pro at Kingston Heath and claimed the PGA Tour of Australasia’s 2000/01 Order of Merit. Always a wonderful putter, Baddeley’s progress was hindered by frequent tinkering with his swing. Nevertheless he has won four PGA Tour titles. Came closest to winning a Major at the 2007 US Open when he led by two strokes through 54 holes.

37. Hannah Green

Tournament victories: 5
Best Major result: Won Women’s PGA Championship (2019)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: 18th

Hannah Green

Etched her name in history as the third Australian to win a women’s Major with a surprise wire-to-wire victory at the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Hannah Green had won three times on the 2017 Futures Tour to earn Player of the Year honours. However she was a rank outsider, world No.114, prior to the Women’s PGA where she saved par from a greenside bunker on the final hole to oust defending champion Sung Hyun Park by a stroke. Five starts later she won her second LPGA title at the Cambia Portland Classic, earning the 2019 Greg Norman Medal as the best Australian golfer on the world stage.

36. Peter Lonard

Tournament victories: 11
Best Major result: 11th, US Open (2002)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 23rd 

Captured our imagination as a club pro with a rags-to-riches victory at the 1997 Australian Masters at Huntingdale to upstage an American rookie by the name of Tiger Woods. It was a Cinderella story given he had taken 18 months to recover from the debilitating Ross River fever when his weight ballooned to 120 kilograms. With an unconventional right-sided swing taught by coach Gary Edwin, Lonard was one of the game’s premier ball-strikers. He dominated our biggest tournaments with multiple victories at the Australian Open (2003, 2004), Australian PGA (2002, 2004, 2007) and Australian Masters (1997, 2002). He won nine times at home from 1997-2004. To put that in perspective, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby and Greg Norman won six titles collectively. Mediocre putting haunted Lonard on the international stage, but he did win once on the PGA Tour (2005 MCI Heritage) and made two Presidents Cup appearances (2003, 2005).

35. Terry Gale

Tournament victories: 41
Best Major result: T-13th, British Open (1979)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

A four-time West Australian Amateur winner and the 1974 Australian Amateur champion, Terry Gale made three Eisenhower Trophy appearances. Then at the age of 29 in 1976 Gale made the belated decision to turn pro, having already won five professional tournaments (Nedlands Masters three times and West Australian Open twice). Among 24 tournament wins in Australia and New Zealand, Gale won nine green jackets at the Nedlands Masters. Overseas, he won twice in Japan, six times in Asia and seven times on the European Senior Tour.

34. Frank Phillips

Tournament victories: 33
Best Major result: 12th, British Open (1964)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Frank Phillips was renowned as one of the finest ball-strikers in the late 1950s and 1960s. With a swing honed by hard work, it wasn’t unusual for the Moss Vale native to hit 1,000 balls and play 18 holes in a day. He collected 24 tournament wins in Australia and New Zealand. At his two Australian Open victories (1957, 1961), Phillips beat Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Gary Player. At the 1965 Australian Open won by Player, Phillips tied for second with Jack Nicklaus despite seven three-putts in a first-round 71. Phillips won seven titles in Asia. But with a wife and three children, he played infrequently in America and Europe and made just three cuts from the eight Majors he contested. His sole European victory was the rain-shortened Woodlawn International Invitational. Phillips retired from professional golf in his mid-40s with a chronic back injury.

33. Karen Lunn

Tournament victories: 15
Best Major result: T-22nd, du Maurier Classic (1994)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: N/A

Karen Lunn

Captured the 1993 Women’s British Open during a stellar career on the Ladies European Tour where she won 10 times. Lunn cruised to an eight-stroke Open victory at Woburn, one of two wins in 1993 when she topped the LET Order of Merit. She played seven seasons on the LPGA Tour (1993-1999) and then returned to Europe where she was appointed chairman of the LET board in 2004. Her final European victory came as a 46-year-old stalwart – 27 years after turning pro.

32. Corinne Dibnah

Tournament victories: 16
Best Major result: T-20th, Nabisco Dinah Shore [now ANA Inspiration] (1987)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: N/A

Winner of the 1988 Women’s British Open, Corinne Dibnah never received the recognition her achievements warranted. The Queenslander beat Sally Little in a playoff at Lindrick in South Yorkshire – 13 years before the Open was designated a women’s Major. At the 1992 Open she was runner-up to Patty Sheehan. Dibnah won 13 titles on the Ladies European Tour from 1986-1994, which places her ninth on the LET’s all-time ranking. Three victories in 1991 helped her top the LET Order of Merit.

31. Robert Allenby

Tournament victories: 22
Best Major results: T-7th, US Open (2004); T-7th, British Open (2008)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 12th 

Brilliant. Surly. Passionate. Temperamental. So many adjectives describe Robert Allenby who was an enigma that delighted and puzzled with his unbridled talent. As a 20-year-old amateur he was runner-up at the 1991 Australian Open (to Wayne Riley) just four weeks after walking away with the Victorian Open by six strokes. What followed was a tabloid editor’s dream. He was the present that kept on giving. Bold victories were punctuated by a near-fatal car crash, a penchant for sacking caddies, confrontations with fellow players and a bizarre alleged kidnapping in Hawaii in 2015. At his best Allenby was unstoppable. He won three times on the European Tour in 1996. Upon relocating to America full-time, he won four PGA Tour events in 17 months across 2000/2001. In the summer of 2005 he captured our ‘Triple Crown’: the Australian Open, PGA and Masters in an unforgettable three-week stretch. At his best, there were few better competitors and Allenby won the first nine playoffs he contested. Allenby never came close to winning a Major, although he was runner-up at the 2010 Players Championship. Six Presidents Cup appearances for the Internationals are bettered only by Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. Yet for all he achieved on course, his greatest contribution is through his charitable work with Challenge Cancer Support Network.

30. Clyde Pearce

Tournament victories: 3*
Best Major result: N/A
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

The first native-born winner of the Australian Open deserves more recognition for a short but brilliant career. Clyde Pearce was a scratch marker in his hometown of Hobart by 15. He reached four straight Australian Amateur finals between 1906 and 1909, claiming the Open/Amateur double in 1908 at just 20 years of age. Remarkably, Pearce was so busy at his brother’s sheep farm that he hadn’t picked up a club all year until he arrived in Sydney three weeks before the Open. Pearce toured Britain and Ireland in 1911 and won a tournament in Peterhead. Years later he was compared to the great Harold Hilton, given their rare ability to create backspin on approach shots. By 1912 golf was no longer a priority after buying a farm near Pingelly south-east of Perth, however he did win the inaugural WA Open. Pearce signed up for the War just days after the initial landing in Gallipoli. He spent a month there but lieutenant Pearce was killed during the Battle of Messines where 7,000 Australians died.

29. Rodger Davis

Tournament victories: 31
Best Major result: T-2nd, British Open (1987)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 7th

Famous for his plus-fours and sartorial elegance, Rodger Davis was a superb competitor who excelled in firm and fast conditions. Davis won the 1988 Bicentennial Classic at Royal Melbourne against arguably the strongest field ever assembled for an Australian strokeplay tournament. The 1986 Australian Open at Metropolitan was the pinnacle of his 19 Australasian titles. Davis finished one stroke adrift of Nick Faldo at the 1987 British Open at Muirfield, which was his second Major top-five. However, 29th at the Masters was his best result from 10 Major appearances in the US. Among his seven European Tour victories was the prestigious British PGA Championship at Wentworth in 1986. Davis was a member of Australia’s triumphant team at the 1986 Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews. He was a Champions Tour winner in 2003.

28. Jack Newton

Tournament victories: 13
Best Major results: 2nd, British Open (1975); T-2nd, Masters (1980)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Twice a runner-up in Majors, Jack Newton was a phenomenal talent and one of golf’s great characters until a near-fatal aeroplane accident ended his career at the age of 33. Highlights of Newton’s career were three European Tour victories, a PGA Tour title in 1978 and the 1979 Australian Open against a crack field at Metropolitan. Newton was one half of the pulsating playoff for the 1975 British Open when Tom Watson defeated him over 18 extra holes (71-72). Newton pushed Seve Ballesteros all the way at the 1980 Masters. Career ended in shocking circumstances in 1983 but Newton showed enormous courage to reinvent himself as the doyen of golf commentators, a passionate advocate for junior golf and a significant charitable fundraiser.

27. Marc Leishman

Tournament victories: 12
Best Major result: T-2nd, British Open (2015)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 12th 

An unassuming country lad from Warrnambool who is the only Australian to claim PGA Tour Rookie of the Year (2009). A superb wind player, Marc Leishman has adjusted to the step up in class at each stage of his development since turning pro in 2005. Leishman won twice on the 2006 Von Nida Tour and topped the moneylist. His American breakthrough came at the 2008 WNB Golf Classic where his 11-shot victory tied the record for the largest winning margin on the now Korn Ferry Tour. He starred in his rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2009, achieved the first of five PGA titles in 2012 and made the first of four Presidents Cup appearances in 2013. Undaunted by the biggest stage with five top-10s in the Majors, Leishman tied for fourth at the 2013 Masters when Adam Scott brought home the green jacket and reached a three-way playoff for the 2015 British Open at St Andrews won by Zach Johnson.

26. Peter Senior

Tournament victories: 34 (does not include Australian senior titles)
Best Major result: T-4th, British Open (1993)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 23rd 

Wielding a broomstick putter and wearing his trademark fedora, Peter Senior was a constant leaderboard presence in Australia where he won 26 tournaments across five decades. Most famously Senior won the Australian Open, PGA and Masters after turning 50. His maiden title came as a teenager at the 1979 South Australian Open. The last was as a 56-year-old veteran at the 2015 Australian Masters at Huntingdale. Senior claimed the tour’s Order of Merit four times (1987, 1989, 1993, 2012). He was a great competitor who refused to be intimidated by Greg Norman at his peak. While he wasn’t as formidable away from Australia, Senior still notched four European Tour victories, three Japanese titles, two Presidents Cup appearances and six runner-ups on the Champions Tour in America.

25. Craig Parry

Tournament victories: 23
Best Major result: T-3rd, US Open (1993)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 13th 

Craig and Jenny Parry with baby daughter April after “Popeye” won the PGA in ’92
Craig and Jenny Parry with baby daughter April after “Popeye” won the PGA in ’92

Short in stature but a giant in terms of tenacity, Craig Parry slayed the game’s goliaths during two decades at the top of professional golf. Conceding height and leverage, the 5-foot-6 Parry was an anomaly among the power hitters that have ruled pro golf since the 1990s. Parry was a three-time Presidents Cup representative who played a decisive role in the Internationals’ lone success at Royal Melbourne in 1998. Twelve individual wins on home soil, including the Australian Open, PGA and Masters (three times), elevated the portly ‘Paz’ into legend status. Opportunities slipped away at the Majors (1992 Masters and 1999 British Open), however Parry is one of just four Australians to win a prestigious WGC event. He destroyed a star-studded field to win the 2002 WGC–NEC Invitational and thwart Tiger Woods’ quest for a four-peat. He had also beaten Woods to win the 2002 NZ Open. ‘Popeye’ produced one of the most miraculous shots in PGA Tour history, holing out from the fairway to win the 2004 Ford Championship at Doral in a playoff.

24. Ossie Pickworth

Tournament victories: 33
Best Major result: Missed cut, British Open (1950, 1953)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Ossie Pickworth holds a unique place in history as the only man to win three successive Australian Open championships. In total, he won four Opens (1946, 1947, 1948, 1954) and three Australian PGAs (1947, 1953, 1955) among his 32 Australian titles. An infrequent traveller, Pickworth made just two Major appearances, missing the cut twice at the British Open. However, he played the British circuit in 1950 where he captured the Irish Open and finished third on the order of merit. Passed away at age 51.

23. Rachel Hetherington

Tournament victories: 12
Best Major results: 2nd, Women’s British Open (2004); T-2nd, Nabisco Championship [now ANA Inspiration] (2001)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: N/A

A four-time NSW Junior champion, Rachel Hetherington appeared destined for success when she turned pro in 1994. She won twice on the 1995 Ladies European Tour at the German and Spanish Opens. Hetherington became a star on the LPGA Tour across 13 seasons (1997-2009) during which she won eight times and $US5.73 million in prizemoney. She also teamed with Karrie Webb to win the Women’s World Cup of Golf in 2000. A fierce competitor when in contention, Hetherington boasts a 3-1 playoff record against Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam – arguably the game’s greatest-ever female player.

22. Stuart Appleby

Tournament victories: 17
Best Major result:
T-2nd, British Open (2002)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 8th

Growing up on a dairy farm near Cohuna on the Murray River, Stuart Appleby scaled great heights in a superb career spanning 23 seasons on the PGA Tour. Appleby accumulated nine PGA Tour titles, five Presidents Cup appearances (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007) and $US29.82 million in prizemoney. His 2010 triumph at the Greenbrier Classic included a final-round 59 that led to PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year. The 2001 Australian Open and 2010 Australian Masters champion came closest to winning a Major when he reached a four-man playoff at the 2002 British Open won by Ernie Els. Appleby’s career success followed the tragic deaths of his first wife Renay and next-door neighbour Payne Stewart that would have broken a lesser man.

21. Ivo Whitton

Tournament victories: 6
Best Major result: N/A
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Ivo Whitton, who honed his game in the paddocks surrounding the family home in Melbourne’s Armadale, was a dominant force of Australian golf in the early 20th century. Whitton still shares the record for most Australian Open victories by an Australian (with Greg Norman). His five Open triumphs spanned three decades (1912, 1913, 1926, 1929, 1931). Whitton also won the Queensland Open plus 13 significant amateur titles: two Australian Amateurs (1922, 1923), five Victorian Amateurs (1919, 1920, 1922, 1923, 1924), four Riversdale trophies, a Queensland Amateur and NSW Amateur. It stands to reason his accomplishments would have been greater if not for World War I where he served in the British Army’s Royal Garrison Artillery after rejection by the Australian Imperial Force. In 1920 Whitton won the Helms Award as the most outstanding Australasian athlete.

20. Minjee Lee

Tournament victories: 7 (including one as an amateur)
Best Major results: 3rd, Women’s British Open (2020); T-3rd, ANA Inspiration (2017)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: 2nd 

Minjee Lee

The world’s No.1 amateur at age 17 and Australia’s best professional golfer on the world stage at age 22. It’s fair to say Minjee Lee has already left an indelible mark on the game. In a stellar amateur career, Lee became the first Australian to win the US Girls’ Junior. She won and successfully defended the Australian Women’s Amateur (2013, 2014). Against the pros, she won the 2014 Vic Open to reach No.1 on the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking and held that mantle until she turned professional after leading Australia to victory at the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship in Japan. After securing her LPGA card as co-medallist at qualifying school, an 18-year-old Lee became an LPGA champion in her 11th start as a tour member at the 2015 Kingsmill Championship. After a successful 2018 campaign Lee received the Greg Norman Medal. With her fifth LPGA victory at the 2019 LA Open she rose to world No.2. At age 24, Lee has registered 51 LPGA top-10s and accumulated $US6.65 million in prizemoney.

19. Wayne Grady

Tournament victories: 10
Best Major result: Won PGA
Championship (1990)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 25th

Possessed a compact all-around game that beat the world’s best at the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek. Wayne Grady held off Fred Couples by three strokes in Alabama to become Australia’s third PGA champion and emerge from the shadow of Greg Norman. It was the second of Grady’s two victories on the PGA tour and came 13 months after a heartbreaking playoff loss to Mark Calcavecchia at the 1989 British Open. Grady won five times at home, including two PGA Championships and two Australian Senior Opens. He also won once in Europe and the 1989 World Cup (with Peter Fowler).

18. Ian Baker-Finch

Tournament victories: 16
Best Major result: Won British Open (1991)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 10th

Produced one of the most scintillating weekend performances in Major championship history en route to capturing the Auld Claret Jug. Ian Baker-Finch scorched Royal Birkdale in 64-66 to win the 1991 British Open by two shots from compatriot Mike Harwood. Baker-Finch shared second place at the 1992 Players Championship and notched three Major top-10s at Augusta National and two at St Andrews where he shared the 54-hole lead at the 1984 Open. Later that year he demolished the NSW Open field by 13 strokes. The last of 10 Australasian victories came at the 1993 Australian PGA before he suffered a notorious form slump, failing to finish all 29 PGA Tour events he entered in in 1995-1996. Upon retirement IBF transformed into one of the most distinguished voices in golf and a fine mentor of aspiring golfers.

17. Bruce Devlin

Tournament victories: 31
Best Major result: 4th, Masters (1964, 1968)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Bruce Devlin had shown his potential by leading Australia to victory at the 1958 Eisenhower Trophy and capturing the 1959 Australian Amateur. In 1960 at Lake Karrinyup he showed his class, beating newly crowned British Open champion Kel Nagle to become the first amateur in 21 years to win the Australian Open. Devlin turned pro the next year and tackled America in 1962. He won eight times on the PGA Tour from 1964-1972 (equal ninth by Australians). Along with victory at the 1970 World Cup (with David Graham), Devlin was prolific at home, winning 19 titles on the Australian circuit. He registered 16 top-10 results in Majors, including five consecutive top-10s at the British Open (1964-1968).

16. Graham Marsh

Tournament victories: 68
Best Major result: 4th, British Open (1983)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 29th (in the inaugural ranking in 1986)

Kalgoorlie-born Graham Marsh gave up a career as a school teacher to travel the world plundering the circuits of Australia, Europe, Japan and Asia. Marsh turned pro in 1969 at age 25 and accumulated 36 trophies during the 1970s. In total, Marsh claimed 13 European titles even though he never played more than seven events in a season. His 20 titles on the Japan Golf Tour are still the most by a foreigner. Marsh’s 15 Australasian titles include the Masters and PGA in 1982 when he won four times. The 1977 Heritage Classic remains his sole PGA Tour victory, however he won six times on the Champions Tour including two so-called Majors (1997 US Senior Open, 1998 Tradition). Marsh had four top-10s at the British Open and two more top-10s from just 13 appearances in US Majors. But he did beat the very best when he won the prestigious World Match Play at Wentworth in 1977, four years after losing on the 40th hole to Gary Player in a famous match. Marsh was also a member of Australia’s successful team at the inaugural Alfred Dunhill Cup in 1985.

15. Bruce Crampton

Tournament victories: 45
Best Major results: 2nd, PGA Championship (1973, 1975); 2nd, US Open (1972); T-2nd, Masters (1972)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 1970: Bruce Crampton poses with his golf bag during the 1970 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in April 1970 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images)

The original iron man who once played 38 consecutive tournaments on the PGA Tour. Bruce Crampton was the first non-American to win the Vardon Trophy for the PGA Tour’s lowest stroke average (1973, 1975). Born in Sydney, Crampton won half a dozen titles at home, including the 1956 Australian Open before emigrating to America where he was the first Australian to win $1 million. His 14 PGA Tour victories ranks equal third behind Greg Norman and Jim Ferrier. Crampton has the distinction of finishing second behind Jack Nicklaus at four Majors. Upon turning 50, he set his sights on the now PGA Tour Champions where he won 20 times, the last of which came at age 61. He led the senior moneylist in 1986 when he won seven titles. Crampton, who revealed he had battled severe depression throughout his career, was a pioneer for Australian golf who showed the way for his countrymen to pursue the American dream.

14. Geoff Ogilvy

Tournament victories: 11
Best Major result: Won US Open (2006)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 3rd 

Having tamed a volatile temper from his early days as a pro, Geoff Ogilvy emerged from the back-nine carnage at Winged Foot to win the 2006 US Open. Much was made of Phil Mickelson’s meltdown even though Ogilvy had dusted a classy field at the WGC–Match Play just four months prior. Ogilvy would validate his Major winner status with a bunch of top-shelf performances. He beat an elite field to win the 2008 WGC–CA Championship at Doral and added a third WGC title in 2009 when he won a second Match Play. He twice won the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii (2009, 2010). Apart from eight PGA Tour titles, Ogilvy won the 2008 Australian PGA and 2010 Australian Open. Whether The Master Of Match Play, The King Of Kapalua or Last Man Standing at Winged Foot, Ogilvy was a big-time performer.

13. Steve Elkington

Tournament victories: 12
Best Major result: Won PGA Championship (1995)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 3rd 

Sweet-swinging Steve Elkington was the first notable Australian golfer to pursue the PGA Tour via the American college system (University of Houston). All 10 of his PGA Tour victories (seventh best by Australians) came in the 1990s. He won the first of two Players Championship in 1991 and claimed the 1992 Australian Open during a rare appearance Down Under. Secured his place in golf immortality with a famous victory at the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera. Capped a watershed year by becoming just the third Australian to receive the Vardon Trophy for the Tour’s leading scoring average. Rose to a career-high No.3 on the OWGR in 1997 after a second Players Championship victory. Posted six top-three results in Majors, including a four-way playoff loss at the 2002 British Open and a share of second at the 2005 PGA. Played in the first four editions of the Presidents Cup, including the 1998 triumph by the Internationals.

12. Joe Kirkwood Snr

Tournament victories: 18
Best Major result: T-3rd (semi-final), PGA Championship (1930)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Could play both right and left-handed and was a renowned trick-shot artist. Born in Sydney, Joe Kirkwood left home at age 10 to work at a sheep station in the outback where the boss introduced him to golf. Armed with just seven clubs, Kirkwood won the 1920 Australian Open with a 290 aggregate at The Australian in Sydney. He was the first champion to break the 300 barrier and it took 14 years for his score to be bettered. Kirkwood also won the NZ Open and NZ PGA that year. In 1921 he left for Europe and beat the great Harry Vardon in his first match and tied for sixth at the British Open. In 1923 Kirkwood departed for America and won nine tournaments in two years on what became the PGA Tour before joining Walter Hagen to play exhibition matches and give clinics. Kirkwood’s 13 PGA Tour wins is fifth by an Australian, while his 16-stroke victory at the 1924 Corpus Christi Open shares the tour record for largest winning margin.

11. Norman von Nida

Tournament victories: 48
Best Major result: T-3rd, British Open (1948)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Norman Von Nida poses for a photo. (Photo by Fred Kuehn)

Norman von Nida was a tour de force on the European circuit post-World War II. He first toured there in 1946 at the age of 32. ‘The Von’ won 13 European tournaments from 1946-1948 and posted three top-six finishes at the British Open. He was the best player in Europe let alone Australia where he won three Opens (1950, 1952, 1953) and four PGAs in the matchplay format (1946, 1948, 1950, 1951). He was an incredible bunker player as well as a feisty competitor with a short temper. Von Nida’s legacy will be the role he played in showing Australians how they could make a living as a touring professional.

10. Jason Day

Tournament victories: 14
Best Major result: Won PGA Championship (2015)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 1st 

To overcome a troubled youth and rise to world No.1 is one of the great Australian sporting stories. Jason Day lost his father to stomach cancer when he was 12 and ran off the rails before discovering a passion for golf. In 2004 at age 16, Day won a Junior World title in San Diego and the Australian Boys’ Amateur. In 2007 at age 19, Day became the youngest winner of a PGA Tour-sanctioned event when he triumphed on the now Korn Ferry Tour. A PGA Tour victory in 2010 and second places at the Masters and US Open followed in 2011 before Day entered a purple patch from 2014-2018. He won 11 PGA titles, including the 2015 PGA Championship, 2016 Players Championship and two WGC–Match Play victories. Day’s 2015 season – when he won five times and rose to world No.1 – is the greatest-ever season by an Australian male. Day is a four-time runner-up in Majors with 16 top-10 results. He made 17 consecutive cuts in Majors (2013-2017). He is a four-time Presidents Cup member. Chronic back pain has threatened to end Day’s career and also curtailed his playing appearances in Australia where his lone victory came at the 2013 World Cup of Golf (both the individual title and the teams event, with Adam Scott).

9. Jim Ferrier

Tournament victories: 36
Best Major result: Won PGA Championship (1947)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

History acknowledges Jim Ferrier as Australia’s first Major winner. But the Sydney-raised son of an insurance clerk was much more than that: elite amateur, golf writer, US Army staff sergeant, club designer and club professional. Ferrier was runner-up at the 1931 Australian Open as a 16-year-old and finished second on two more occasions before claiming the 1938 and 1939 national championships. Ferrier won four Australian Amateur titles, four NSW Amateurs and was runner-up in the 1936 British Amateur at St Andrews. As an amateur he won 12 tournaments against professionals.

Ferrier emigrated to the United States and turned professional in 1941. After serving in the US Army during World War II, Ferrier won 18 times on the PGA Tour from 1944-1961 (second most by an Australian). His defining moment came at the 1947 PGA Championship where he acquired the nickname of ‘The Undertaker’ because of the manner in which the 6-foot-4 Ferrier disposed of matchplay opponents. Ferrier also led the 1950 Masters by three strokes with six holes to play (finishing second to Jimmy Demaret) and was runner-up at the 1960 PGA (to Jay Hebert) at age 45. Until the emergence of Gary Player, Ferrier was the most successful non-American in the history of the PGA Tour.

8. Jan Stephenson

Tournament victories: 24
Best Major result: 3 wins – Peter Jackson Classic (1981), LPGA Championship (1982), US Women’s Open (1983)
Highest ranking on RWWGR: N/A

A trailblazer not only for Australian golf but women’s golf in general. Aside from the racy photo shoots (posing nude in a bathtub full of golf balls) to raise the LPGA’s profile, Jan Stephenson was a superstar of the game. She won three women’s Majors and 16 LPGA tournaments, finally receiving her due with induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. Stephenson’s amateur career included five consecutive NSW Schoolgirl titles and three NSW Juniors. Upon turning pro in 1973, she won the Australian Ladies Open before focusing on the LPGA Tour where she was Rookie of the Year in 1974. She achieved three LPGA victories in 1981, including her first Major at the Peter Jackson Classic. Her second Major came at the 1982 LPGA Championship and third at the 1983 US Women’s Open. Her final LPGA victory came in 1987 when she won three titles in a season for the third time.

7. David Graham

Tournament victories: 38
Best Major result: 2 wins – PGA Championship (1979), US Open (1981)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 28th (in the inaugural ranking in 1986)

Hailed for playing one of the finest rounds in Major championship history, hitting all 18 greens in a final-round 67 to win the US Open at Merion. That performance put David Graham in exalted company and he remains the only Australian to win two men’s Majors in America. A renowned hard worker, Graham claimed his first Major at the 1979 PGA Championship when he beat Ben Crenshaw in a playoff. He tied for third at the 1985 British Open among 16 top-10 results in Majors. He also made the cut in 20 consecutive Majors (1979-1984). Apart from eight victories on the PGA Tour, Graham triumphed at the 1976 World Match Play and trounced a star-studded field to win the 1977 Australian Open (when Kerry Packer recruited the best Americans). In team play, he helped Australia to victory at the 1970 World Cup (with Bruce Devlin) and twice at the Dunhill Cup in St Andrews (1985, 1986). Graham won five times on the Senior PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2015.

6. Adam Scott

Tournament victories: 31
Best Major result: Won Masters Tournament (2013)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 1st 

Adam Scott

Adam Scott holds a special spot in the hearts of Australians as the man who ended 79 years of anguish at the Masters when he captured our first green jacket in 2013. Scott’s putt to defeat Angel Cabrera on the second-playoff hole was redemption for the previous year’s British Open when he bogeyed the final four holes to lose by a stroke to Ernie Els. That Scott rebounded so quickly revealed he’s much more than a superb ball-striker. Winning the 2004 Players Championship authenticated him as a budding superstar of the sport. At 23, he was the youngest winner of the PGA Tour’s flagship event. His 14 PGA Tour victories (including two WGC wins) are the fourth most by an Australian. Scott is one of three Australians to reach world No.1 and has spent 445 weeks entrenched in the top-10 (10th most all-time). He holds the record for most appearances (nine) by an International at the Presidents Cup. His 19 top-10 finishes in men’s Majors is second only to Greg Norman and Peter Thomson. He has won tournaments with both a short and long putter (being the first to do so at the Masters). Has carried the PGA Tour of Australasia for two decades, winning the Australian Open, PGA (twice), Masters (twice) and a World Cup of Golf (with Jason Day).

5. Walter Travis

Tournament victories: Total unknown
Best Major result: 4 wins – US Amateur (1900, 1901, 1903), British Amateur (1904)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Walter J. Travis shown swinging a golf club at the Invitation Tournament of the Garden City Golf Club. (Photo by © Bettmann/CORBIS/Bettmann Archive)

Walter Travis has a unique place in the pantheon of Australian golfers as a three-time US Amateur champion and the first non-Brit to win the British Amateur. Born in Maldon, near Bendigo in central Victoria, Travis emigrated to America at the age of 24. However he didn’t hit a golf ball until October 1896 – three months before his 35th birthday. Travis immersed himself in the game and reached the semi-finals of the 1898 US Amateur. He won the title three times in four years and tied for second at the 1902 US Open. With victory at the 1901 US Amateur, he was the first player to win a ‘Major’ using the Haskell rubber-cored golf ball. Travis was the quintessential Renaissance Man as a golf writer, publisher, instructor and course architect, entering the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1979.

4. Kel Nagle

Tournament victories: 96
Best Major result: Won British Open (1960)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Kel Nagle
Kel Nagle lifts the Claret Jug after winning the 1960 British Open

Kel Nagle etched his name into golf folklore when he held off Arnold Palmer to win the centenary 1960 Open at St Andrews. It was the highlight of an incredible career that saw the softly spoken Sydneysider inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007. Apart from that famous one-stroke victory over the charismatic Palmer on the Old Course, Nagle would finish second to Palmer at the 1962 British Open during a stretch when he recorded six top-five results at The Open across seven years. Nagle lost an 18-hole playoff for the 1965 US Open to Gary Player. He won 11 European tournaments and partnered Peter Thomson to win the World Cup in 1954 and 1959. Nagle dominated at home where he won 77 titles in Australia and New Zealand, including six Australian PGAs, seven NSW PGAs, seven New Zealand Opens and seven New Zealand PGAs (the last of which came at age 54). His lone Australian Open triumph came in 1959, however he was a runner-up on six occasions. A late bloomer who was self taught, Nagle’s achievements are better appreciated when you consider he first played golf at age 16, rediscovered it at 25 after serving in World War II and reached the height of his powers between his 39th and 45th birthdays when he finally toured Europe and abroad. An outstanding putter and fairway wood exponent, Nagle is best remembered as golf’s greatest gentleman.

3. Peter Thomson

Tournament victories: 102
Best Major result: 5 wins – British Open (1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965)
Highest ranking on OWGR: N/A

Nobody mastered links golf quite in the manner of Peter Thomson. Five British Open triumphs, three second places and 18 top-10 results. He fared no worse than second from 1952-1958. Thomson preferred playing in Europe and the Far East and won 10 national championships, including the Australian Open three times and NZ Open nine times. He collected 29 European titles, 44 wins on the Australian circuit, 13 Asian victories and two World Cups (with Kel Nagle). The blight on his playing record is that he won just once in America (1956 Texas International Open) and played just 13 US Majors (Thomson never competed at the PGA). But he did conquer America on the now PGA Tour Champions, winning nine times in 1985. Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA from 1962-1994. And as the only man to captain the Internationals to Presidents Cup glory (1998), Thomson is in a class of his own.

2. Karrie Webb

Tournament victories: 57
Best Major result: 7 wins – Nabisco Championship [now ANA Inspiration] (2000, 2006), Women’s PGA Championship (2001), US Women’s Open (2000, 2001), du Maurier Classic (1999), Women’s British Open (2002),
Highest ranking on RWWGR: 3rd

Karrie Webb

That a little girl from Ayr in Tropical North Queensland could rise to become the best woman golfer in the world is a fairytale. At age 30, Karrie Webb became the youngest living person to enter the World Golf Hall of Fame. Her maiden victory came at the 1995 Women’s British Open where she won by six shots to become the event’s youngest winner (age 20). In 1996 she won four LPGA titles and Rookie of the Year honours as well as becoming the first player to pass $US1 million in a season. Webb completed the Super Career Grand Slam when she won her second British Open in 2002. In 2013 she won her eighth Australian Ladies Masters. In an illustrious LPGA career, Webb was a two-time Player of the Year (1999, 2000), three-time leading money winner and three-time Vare Trophy winner for best scoring average. Webb achieved her 41 LPGA titles and seven women’s Majors while enduring a compelling rivalry with Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam, arguably the game’s greatest woman golfer.

1. Greg Norman

Tournament victories: 76
Best Major result: 2 wins – British Open (1986, 1993)
Highest ranking on OWGR: 1st 

Greg Norman
Greg Norman, not new to being No.1 on a ranking

A powerful straight driver, a daring shotmaker with exquisite touch and a charismatic presence on the fairways. At his peak, Greg Norman was much more than a two-time British Open winner. The Great White Shark burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old when he won the 1976 West Lakes Classic in Adelaide for the first of 33 Australian victories. Norman’s exploits abroad are legendary. It’s challenging to pinpoint his most remarkable accomplishment, singularly or over a period of time:

  • First Australian to be officially recognised as world No.1, spending 331 weeks on top
  • Winning 20 titles on the PGA Tour, the most by an Australian
  • Sharing the record for most Australian Opens titles by an Australian (five)
  • Holding the record for most Australian Masters (six)
  • Shooting 24-under par to win the 1994 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass
  • Winning the PGA Tour’s Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average three times (1989, 1990, 1994)
  • Leading money winner on the PGA Tour three times (1986, 1990, 1995)
  • Leading the PGA Tour’s total driving statistic three times (1988, 1989, 1993)
  • Registering 129 top-10s from 330 appearances on the PGA Tour (39.1%)
  • Notching 30 top-10s in men’s Majors, the most by an Australian.
  • Leading all four Majors through 54 holes in one season (‘Saturday Slam’ in 1986)
  • Finishing second at eight Majors
  • Losing all four Majors in playoffs (1984 US Open, 1987 Masters, 1989 British Open, 1993 PGA Championship)
  • Leading the 2008 British Open with nine holes to play at the age of 53.

Norman was a mesmerising presence on television screens, especially Monday mornings in April and Sunday afternoons in summer. For that reason alone, Norman’s greatest legacy is the many, many Australians he lured to the game.