Jack Nicklaus, whose record of 18 Major titles may never be surpassed, has been voted the ‘Greatest Golfer of the last 100 years’ by readers of Golf Monthly, the world’s longest serving golf magazine.
In a poll to be revealed in the August edition of the magazine which celebrates its own centenary this year (on sale at the start of this year’s Open Championship on Thursday), the Golden Bear attracted nearly two thirds of the votes (58%) from a list of 20 star players. His nearest challenger was Tiger Woods with 16%, followed by the late Seve Ballesteros (8%).
“When you look back to 100 years of golf, you are talking about the players that I idolized as a youth and the players I admire today,” said Jack Nicklaus on hearing the result of the voting by Golf Monthly readers. “So to be chosen among the many talented golfers over that time period is humbling and greatly appreciated,” he added.
A large number of readers (65%) rated Peter Alliss as the ‘Best golf commentator on TV or radio’ of all time, well ahead of the legendary Henry Longhurst (10%), Ken Brown (5%) and Sky’s Ewen Murray (3%).
“His unrivalled achievements clearly mark Jack Nicklaus out as the greatest golfer to have played the game,” said editor Michael Harris. “But just three years ago most people would have expected his Major record to be overtaken by now, which lends even more grativas to his achievement, especially as he was so far ahead of the rest in the voting. Perhaps less surprising was the number of votes cast for Peter Alliss, whose commentaries seem to get better with passing years,” he added.
Nicklaus, who gave an emotional farewell to the game at St Andrews in 2005 having won three Open titles, was placed well ahead of other golfing greats like James Braid and Bobby Jones (4%); Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Tom Watson (2%); plus Sir Nick Faldo, Gary Player and Sam Snead. Also well back in the voting was European Tour figurehead Harry Vardon, who won six Open Championships including a century ago at Sandwich.
Gene Sarazen, one of only five players to have won all four Majors (the others being Hogan, Player, Woods and Nicklaus), did not even gain a single vote from nearly 1,200 readers* who voted. Nor did two-time Major winner Tony Jacklin, although he was rated Europe’s ‘Greatest Ryder Cup Captain’ (58%), well ahead of Colin Montgomerie (17%).
Nicklaus also featured at the top of the voting for both the ’Greatest Open Championship of the last 100 years’ and the ‘Most memorable golfing moment of the last century’, thanks to his famous Duel in the Sun with Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977.
Tiger Woods was credited with having inspired the most people to take up the game as well as playing the ‘Greatest golf shot of the last 100 years’ for his memorable chip-in at the 16th hole during the 2005 US Masters.
Ryder Cup hero Lee Westwood is the golfer most Golf Monthly readers (42%) would like to see win the 140th Open Championship this week – ahead of US Open champion Rory McIlroy (13%) and world No.1 Luke Donald (12%).
But the player readers would most like to see pick up a Gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil is Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (27%), followed by Lee Westwood (11%), Luke Donald (10%) and Ian Poulter and Matteo Manassero (both 9%).
*survey conducted among 1,189 Golf Monthly readers Spring 2011.
“Golf Monthly” www.golf-monthly-magazine.co.uk