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Ranking the All-Time Greatest American Golfers

Picking the top golfers in the United States may appear to be a simple assignment. However, once you start pouring over the names—and there are a lot of them—the process gets tough since there are so many strong players to select from.

There are a lot of no-brainers, a lot of speculations, and maybe even a few stretches. And the other thing about a list like this. It is guaranteed to generate debates. Check out my top golfer’s list in the United States of America.

Lanny Wadkins

Lanny Wadkins, another “bulldog” player, did not back down from any golf competition. He only won one major championship, the 1977 PGA Championship, in a three-hole playoff at Pebble Beach Golf Links against Gene Littler. He also finished second in four major tournaments.

He’s perhaps most recognized for his Ryder Cup exploits. Between 1977 and 1993, he competed in the renowned biannual tournament eight times. In the Ryder Cup, he scored 21.5 points, which is the sixth-best total ever.

Wadkins won 31 times throughout the world, 21 times on the PGA Tour, and one time on the Champions Tour. In 2009, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Gene Littler

Gene Littler has a long list of professional victories, including 29 on the PGA Tour and eight on the Champions Tour. Littler’s narrative, on the other hand, is about a comeback.

In 1955, he won four times, but not far after that, he slipped into a rut after experimenting with his swing.

Paul Runyan, a fellow professional, changed his grip and enjoyed his finest year on Tour in 1959, winning five times.

Littler only had one major trophy to his name: the 1961 U.S. Open.

In the three majors hosted in the United States, he had 17 top-10 finishes: seven at The Masters, five at the PGA Championship, and five at the U.S. Open.

Lloyd Mangrum

Lloyd Mangrum was one of the most dependable performers in the game’s history. He had a fluid swing and conducted himself with a laid-back demeanor, earning him the moniker “Mr. Icicle.”

He won the 1946 U.S. Open and finished second or third in four other majors. In the 1940 and 1950 US Opens, he lost in the playoffs.

He finished in the top ten in the Masters for ten years in a row, including a tournament-record 64 in 1940.

In 1951, he was the financial leader on the PGA Tour, and in 1951 and 1953, he won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average. On the PGA Tour, he won 36 of his 42 career victories.

Cary Middlecoff

Dr. Cary Middlecoff was a dental hygienist who retired in the 1940s to pursue a career as a professional golfer.

It was a wise career decision, as he went on to win 40 PGA Tour tournaments. In 1955, he won the Masters, and in 1949 and 1956, he won the US Open.

He won 28 Tour tournaments during the 1950s, more than any other player at the time.

In 1956, he won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average, and in 1953, 1955, and 1959, he was a member of three Ryder Cup teams.

Ben Crenshaw

In 1973, Ben Crenshaw made his PGA Tour debut after winning the third of his three NCAA Championships at the University of Texas.

He made quite an impression, becoming only the second player in Tour history to win his debut tournament (Marty Fleckman in 1967 was the first).

Early in his career, he had a big effect, coming second in five majors before winning the 1984 Masters. Crenshaw is largely considered as one of golf’s greatest putters.

He also won the 1995 Masters and demonstrated his putting prowess by never three-putting on Augusta National’s difficult greens. He was the winner of 30 tournaments, including 19 on the PGA Tour.

Bob Goalby

In 1968, Bob Goalby had a great Masters, ending in a tie with Argentinean Roberto DeVicenzo with a 66.

Goalby was crowned champion when DeVicenzo signed an erroneous scorecard. Goalby, oddly enough, never competed in the Open Championship. In 1979, he joined the Champions Tour (then the Senior Tour) and offered important ideas to its development and organization.

Tom Lehman

Don’t tell Tom Lehman that he had the 54-hole lead in three straight US Opens from 1995 to 1997 and doesn’t win.

He considers himself fortunate to have been in that situation, and he criticizes himself for not delivering and failing to win the US Open.

He won 30 times, including five PGA Tour events and six Champions Tour events. He is the first golfer to win Player of the Year accolades on all three PGA Tours: Nationwide (now Web.com), PGA, and Champions.

Tom Kite

Tom Kite was one of those humble, modest players who excelled at a straightforward game.

He won 38 times worldwide, including 19 times on the PGA Tour and ten times on the Champions Tour.

His one big title left an indelible impression. In 1982, he won the U.S. Open by being the last guy standing on an extremely windy Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Kite was one of the first players to utilize a sports psychologist and add a third wedge to his bag. In 1981 and 1989, he was the money leader on the PGA Tour, and in 1989, he was named player of the year. In 2004, he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller’s career didn’t last as long as some of the other greatest players, but it was no less illustrious.

He won 32 tournaments all around the world, including 25 on the PGA Tour.

He won the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country and established a course record in the process. Miller scored a 63 in the final round, vaulting him to the top of the leaderboard and winning the tournament.

In the mid-’70s, he was one of the greatest in the world, competing in the Jack Nicklaus/Tom Watson period.

In his post-playing days, Miller has worked as the main golf analyst for NBC. In 2012, he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Curtis Strange

Curtis Strange is most remembered for being the last guy to win consecutive US Opens.

Those were in the years 1988 and 1989 when his game was at its pinnacle. After winning the second title, he chose to modify his swing, and his game was never the same after that.

He won 17 of his 18 tournaments on the PGA Tour.

Between 1986 and 1990, he had almost 200 weeks in the top ten in the World Golf Rankings. He had a fiery personality and could be a handful on the golf course.

In 2007, he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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