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The best Irish golfers of all time

To celebrate St Patrick's Day, we've ranked the best golfers from the Emerald Isle. Do you agree with our order?
 

Plenty of star names from the Emerald Isle have graced the fairways of the PGA and European Tours down the years, but who are the best Irish golfers of all time? We’ve got 25 for you.

The best Irish golfers of all time

25. Jimmy Kinsella – 5 wins (1 European Tour)
24. Liam Higgins – 6 wins (1 European Tour)
23. Damien McGrane – 7 wins (1 European Tour)
22. Peter Lawrie – 2 wins (1 European Tour)
21. Simon Thornton – 5 wins (1 European Tour)
20. Leona Maguire – 3 wins (1 LPGA)
19. Jimmy Martin – 4 wins (2 European Tour)
18. John O’Leary – 4 wins (2 European Tour)
17. Philip Walton – 7 wins (3 European Tour)
16. Eddie Polland – 7 wins (4 European Tour)
15. Eamonn Darcy – 15 wins (4 European Tour)
14. Christy O’Connor Jr – 17 wins – (4 European Tour)
13. Michael Hoey – 8 wins (5 European Tour)
12. David Feherty – 10 wins (5 European Tour)
11. Paul McGinley – 10 wins (4 European Tour )
10. Harry Bradshaw – 18 wins (5 European Tour)
9. Ronan Rafferty – 14 wins (7 European Tour)
8. Des Smyth – 24 wins (8 European Tour)
7. Fred Daly – 26 wins (1 major, 7 European Tour)
6. Shane Lowry – 6 wins (1 major, 6 European Tour, 2 PGA Tour)

So who makes it into the top five? Keep scrolling…

The top 5 Irish golfers of all time

5. Christy O’Connor Sr

best irish golfers

Wins: 64

Christy O’Connor Sr, pictured fourth from left during the 1969 Ryder Cup, is not to be confused with his nephew, Christy O’Connor Jr, who joined the European Tour some years after his uncle had begun his illustrious career.

Aside from his 64 professional wins he played in 10 successive Ryder Cups – though he was only on the winning side once.

4. Darren Clarke

Major wins: 1
European Tour wins:
14
PGA Tour wins:
3
Other wins:
9
Senior Tour major wins: 1
Senior Tour wins: 4

Darren Clarke cemented his place in Irish golfing history when he won his only major in 2011 at The Open – and after a number of European and PGA Tour wins, as well as a successful PGA and European Senior Tour career underway, the Northern Irishman’s spot is thoroughly deserved.

Clarke also played in five Ryder Cups before going on to captain the team in 2016 at Hazeltine.

3. Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

Major wins: 1
European Tour wins:
11
PGA Tour wins:
4
Other wins:
3

While being one of the most likeable Europeans, Graeme McDowell has put together a successful career and was the first Irishman to win the US Open.

McDowell also played a huge role in Europe’s three Ryder Cup victories in a row between 2010 and 2014, and was a shoo-in for captaincy before he joined the LIV Golf League.

2. Padraig Harrington

Open champions

Major wins: 3
European Tour wins:
15
PGA Tour wins:
6
Other wins:
16
Senior Tour major wins: 1
Senior Tour wins: 4

Padraig Harrington is still the last man to successfully defend an Open Championship title when he completed the feat in 2008 at Royal Birkdale.

He’s had plenty of success on the professional circuits as well as being an integral part of the European Ryder Cup team as a player. He captained the team to a record defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021, but that won’t blotch his record.

Harrington now splits his time between the PGA Tour and the Senior Tour, on which he won four times – including a maiden major at the US Senior Open – within 15 months of turning 50.

1. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Major wins: 4
European Tour wins:
15
PGA Tour wins:
23
Other wins: 5

Who else?

Northern Ireland-born Rory McIlroy has enjoyed success like no other Irish player on the biggest of stages.

One of a few players labelled The Next Tiger Woods, McIlroy was Ireland’s first and only World No 1 to date and has four major championships to his name. And that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.

Looking forward, would you bet against him doubling his major tally in years to come? Or completing the Grand Slam?

Whether he does that or not, if McIlroy’s career ended today, the history books will present him as one of the finest to ever play our beautiful game.

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

NCG

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