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The 18 Best Players Ever

Watson won five British Opens, on the best courses over there. He won two Masters and one U.S. Open. And when he had the yips all those years, Watson hung in there, hung in for a decade until he found a way to win again. I'll remember that about him as much as anything.

Career victories: 40 Majors: 6
Peak years: 1984-96

You better believe he's on the list. A lot of pretty great golfers have won three majors. Billy Casper. Jimmy Demaret. Dr. Cary Middlecoff. Faldo won six. Three Masters, three British Opens. He did it over a decade that began with his first British Open, at Muirfield, in 1987, making par after par on the last day. He came from behind—practically from Hilton Head—to beat Greg Norman at Augusta in 1996. He nearly won the '88 U.S. Open at Brookline, but lost a playoff to Curtis Strange.

Faldo also did about as much as anyone to popularize swing gurus. He had a lot to do with making David Leadbetter as famous as he is. But hey, nobody's perfect.

Career victories: 56 Majors: 3
Peak years: 1957-70

I still hate him for beating Palmer at Olympic. I was fourteen that year, and Casper didn't just break my heart coming back in the fourth round and then again in the play-off. He broke everybody's heart. This wasn't Nick Faldo coming back against Greg Norman; Casper did it to Arnie. But he did it, and that's all that counts.

Casper may be the most underrated great player ever. He had fifty-one PGA Tour titles. He won his first U.S. Open at Winged Foot, then won another at Olympic and copped a green jacket in 1970. When you put those three majors with the fifty-one Tour wins, eight Ryder Cup appearances, five Vardon trophies and Player of the Year awards in 1966 and '70, there is no question Casper belongs on this list. The question is: Should he be higher on it?


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