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Colin Montgomerie

The best Scottish golfers of all time

To celebrate St Andrew's Day, here is our rundown of the finest players made in the Home of Golf to walk the fairways. Do you agree?
 

From the founding fathers of our game to a number of European Tour and Ryder Cup legends, some rather special players have been made north in the Home of Golf. Here’s our rundown of the best Scottish golfers of all time.

Do you agree with our rundown?

Top best Scottish golfers of all time

Bernard Gallacher

European Tour wins: 10
Other wins: 12

Though he never made his mark in the majors, his tour and Ryder Cup record speaks for itself and, in 1995, Gallacher was just the second person to captain an away team to glory on American soil.

Paul Lawrie

Majors: 1 (The Open 1999)
European Tour wins: 7
Other wins: 7

Scotland’s most recent major champion when he won the play-off at Carnoustie – the year of the famous Jean van de Velde collapse – Lawrie picked up five European Tour titles around the turn of the century and had another purple patch with three titles in 18 months in 2011 and 2012.

George Duncan

Majors: 1 (The Open 1920)
Other wins (that are known): 22

Duncan had six Open top 10s by the time he finally got over the line in 1920 – the first Open following World War I.

It is also considered one of the greatest comebacks of all time, having shot 80-80 in the first two rounds to trail by 13. He then shot 71-72 to win by two.

Two years later, Duncan became just the third person to break 70 in the Open.

He went on to represent Great Britain in the first three Ryder Cups, including 1929 when he was the victorious playing captain.

Willie Park Jr

Majors: 2 (The Open 1887, 1889)

Though he never quite managed to catch up with his dad’s four Open titles, two wins in the late 1880’s have secured Park Jr’s place in golf history.

Sam Torrance

European Tour wins: 21
Other wins: 23

Another Scot who made his name in the Ryder Cup, Torrance played in eight straight matches from 1981 to 1995 and was the winning captain in 2002. If that’s not enough, in 1985 Torrance sank the winning putt which denied the Americans the title for the first time in 28 years, and in 1987 he was part of the away team that won on American soil for the first time.

Catriona Matthew

best Scottish golfers

Majors: 1 (Women’s Open 2009)
LPGA Tour wins: 3
LET wins: 5

Matthew’s career-defining moment came just three weeks shy of her 40th birthday when she clinched the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham. Matthew also played in nine Solheim Cups, accruing 22 points – just three shy of Laura Davies’ all-time record. The Scot captained Europe to a famous victory in 2019 and will lead the team again in 2021.

Jamie Anderson

Majors: 3 (The Open 1877, 1878, 1879)

One of just four men to win The Open three years in a row, but the St Andrews-born player did not return to try and make it four in 1880 because the date of the tournament was set so late that he missed entry.

Bob Ferguson

Majors: 3 (The Open 1880, 1881, 1882)

The six Opens between 1877 and 1882 were won by just two players. Anderson and Ferguson also had 13 other top 10s between them in golf’s original major.

Young Tom Morris – more on him later – and Peter Thomson are the only other players to have won the Open three times in a row.

Willie Park Sr

Majors: 4 (The Open 1860, 1863, 1866, 1875)

East Lothian-born Park not only won the inaugural Open Championship at Prestwick in 1860, he added three more.

Willie Anderson

Majors: 4 (US Open 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905)

Berwick-born Anderson’s feat of three US Open victories in a row is yet to be matched, while only Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have equalled his record of four titles in America’s national championship.

Sandy Lyle

Best shots at the Masters

Majors: 2 (The Open 1985, The Masters 1988)
PGA Tour wins: 4
European Tour wins: 16

Lyle was a dominant force during the 1980s, a decade that saw him not only win the Open but become the first Briton to slip on the Green Jacket. He also played in five Ryder Cups, including two wins, but was controversially overlooked as a captain in 2010 in favour of Colin Montgomerie. Speaking of whom…

Colin Montgomerie

European Tour wins: 31
Other wins: 23 (including 3 senior majors)

Lyle just misses out to Montgomerie in this rundown, too. Only three players – Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, and Tiger Woods – have more European Tour titles than Monty, who won eight Order of Merit titles including seven in a row from 1993. Monty played in eight Ryder Cups from 1991 to 2006, including five wins, and was the victorious captain in 2010. Only Sergio Garcia, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer have recorded more points by a single player in the competition.

Tom Morris Sr

Majors: 4 (The Open 1861, 1862, 1864, 1867)

Very much recognised as the world’s first professional golfer, Old Tom won four Opens between 1861 and 1867. His two records of oldest Open winner – at 46 – and largest winning margin – 13 strokes – stand to this day.

Tom Morris Jr

Majors: 4 (The Open 1868, 1869, 1870, 1872)

Generally considered the first prodigy of the game, Young Tom won four consecutive Open Championships by the age of 21, including his first at 17 – a record that stands to this day.

In 1869 Morris Jr broke the record over the Old Course by two strokes with a 77 in the St Andrews Professional Tournament, a target that remained unmatched for more than two decades.

James Braid

best Scottish golfers

Majors: 5 (The Open 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910)
Other wins (that are known): 14

Braid finished in the top 10 of every Open from 1896 to 1912, a run that included not only five victories but two in a row in 1905 and 1906. Braid was also the first player to break 70 at the Open.

When his playing days were over, Braid became a world-renowned architect with more than 400 courses to his name.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below or you can tweet us.

Alex Perry

Alex Perry

Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

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