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With the uncertain nature of professional golf, making predictions is a risky business. But it’s hard to see anyone matching the following feats...
7 Golf Records That Will Never Be Broken...
Records, as they say, are there to be broken. One day, someone will go lower than Jim Furyk’s 58; Matteo Manassero won’t remain the youngest ever winner on the European Tour forever; and Seve’s 50 victories will be bettered… eventually.
Other records appear insurmountable.
It’s inconceivable that someone will ever spend a longer period on top of the world than Tiger Woods, just as it is that anyone will come close to occupying the 26 consecutive years Phil Mickelson spent inside the world’s top 50.
In part, it’s because the game has changed.
These records are truly mind-boggling, but in the modern era, where the strength in depth throughout the game is so much greater, it’s hard to imagine any player dominating for an extended period of time.
Consistency is a factor, too.
The greats have all encountered their own struggles – be it technical ones, injuries or testing times away from the course – yet somehow maintained their performance levels.
Many of Woods’ records appear impenetrable; he’s left an indelible impression on the record books: 18 World Golf Championship victories, 82 PGA Tour titles (tied with Sam Snead) and 52 straight rounds of par or better.
When he calls it quits, will we ever again witness such remarkable consistency?
Never is a long time, but here are seven records that, well… let’s just say they’ll still be talking about a hundred years from now…
Phil Mickelson's 26-year stay inside the world's top 50
It was, as the man himself said, “a good run”.
When Phil Mickelson finished runner-up at the Casio World Open on the Japan Golf Tour in November 1993, he entered the world’s top 50 for the first time – and he stayed there for 1,353 straight weeks.
Lefty was 23 years old, President Bill Clinton was in office, Meat Loaf was number one in the charts and Tiger Woods was doing his amateur thing.
Golf’s greatest streak came to an end in November 2019 year, when the Californian, who turned professional in 1992, finished in a tie for 28th at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China (pictured).
Shugo Imahira’s runner-up spot at the Mynavi ABC Championship on the Japan Golf Tour saw Mickelson bumped into unfamiliar territory.
It’s hard to see such a record ever being challenged.
To put it into perspective, Rory McIlroy – the player currently on the longest streak inside the top 50 – would need to maintain his form for going on 15 more seasons to supplant Mickelson.
It seems unlikely given how he once viewed his future – not playing competitively into his 40s.
Perhaps the key to Mickelson’s longevity has been his long and rhythmical swing – coupled, of course, with an exquisite short game.
When the streak came to an end, he talked of a lack of mental sharpness, which is arguably the most impressive aspect of this achievement – his incredible focus over such a long period.
Tiger Woods' 683 weeks at World No.1
First came the 264-week stretch between August 1999 and September 2004, before another 281 weeks between June 2005 and October 2010.
“I’m very proud that I’ve spent two years of my career at the top of the world rankings, which is a pretty nice feeling,” said McIlroy, after reclaiming the top spot last year.
“But Tiger’s 683, I can’t fathom.” McIlroy is one of only four players to spend at least 100 weeks at World No.1 since the creation of the Official World Golf Ranking in 1986.
Since the last of Woods’ 11 spells at the top in 2013, the number one position has changed 28 times.
No one could dislodge Woods because he kept winning – it’s that simple.
Thirty-two PGA Tour titles came in a devastating five-year period between 1999 and 2003, during which time his win ratio topped 40 per cent.
Greg Norman sits second on the record list having racked up 331 weeks. Sir Nick Faldo managed 97 and the great Seve 61, with McIlroy and DJ both over 100.
As McIlroy says, 683 is something extraordinary.
Jack Nicklaus' 24 years between first and last Major win
Twenty-three years, nine months and 27 days to be exact – the time between Nicklaus’ 1962 US Open triumph and his victory at Augusta in 1986 (pictured).
He was 22 when he defeated Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff at Oakmont to win his first Major.
Eighteen years later, he lifted a fourth US Open, before adding a 17th Major with victory at the PGA Championship – which many assumed would be his last.
At the 50th Masters, no one gave him a chance against the younger stars – the likes of Seve, Norman and Langer.
With ten holes left to play in the final round, he was six off the lead.
Then came the heroics – the birdie blitz, home in 30 shots and Langer helping the 46-year-old ‘Olden Bear’ into a sixth Green Jacket.
When Woods won The Masters in 1997, he was 21.
Should he claim another Major in 2021, he’ll eclipse Nicklaus’ record.
It’s possible – the game’s greats never lose it, as Tom Watson also showed at Turnberry in 2009.
Had he held on to win a sixth Claret Jug at the age of 59, there would have been 34 years between his first and last Major.
Assuming Woods doesn’t rewrite this particular record, you imagine no one ever will.
It’s a young man’s game now.
Of the 80 Majors contested since the turn of the century, only six champions were in their 40s.
Lydia Ko's 10 LPGA Tour victories before turning 19
When Korean-born New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko claimed the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open as an amateur, she made history as the LPGA Tour’s youngest ever winner at just 15 years, four months and two days old.
For many, it came as no surprise.
Earlier in the year, she’d won the New South Wales Open to become the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event at the age of 14.
By the end of 2014, the teenage sensation had five LPGA Tour titles to her name.
The following year, while still just 17, she became the youngest player of either gender to reach World No.1 – and the titles kept on coming.
Over the next nine months, she doubled her haul.
Victory number nine brought a first Major title, the Evian Championship (pictured), and with it another record – the youngest Major Champion in LPGA Tour history.
These days, young professionals arrive on the scene ready to win, but the game has never witnessed anyone be so prolific while still in their teens.
Byron Nelson's 11 consecutive wins in 1945
Tiger gave it a good go, managing seven straight wins in 2006/2007, but Byron Nelson’s record will surely never be beaten.
In 1945, the American won 18 times on the PGA Tour – another record – which included 11 straight between March and August.
In medal events, his scoring average was 68.33, and of the 112 rounds he played, he was under par on 93 occasions.
He entered 30 events and finished in the top five 28 times.
Woods had a habit of stringing victories together, recording seven ‘Ws’ on the bounce in 2006/2007 and another six consecutively in 1999/ 2000.
It’s not the norm.
In fact, it’s over three years since a player won three in a row – that honour belonging to Dustin Johnson.
Before that, in 2014, McIlroy recorded a hat-trick – but these are rare feats.
Today’s fields are stronger, as is the depth of talent.
Even so, ‘Mr Golf’s’ perfect 11 shouldn’t be dismissed on grounds of lesser competition.
There was Ben Hogan – who won 13 times in the 1946 season – and also the great Sam Snead, who racked up eight victories in 1938 and 11 in 1950.
Jackie Burke Jr – who won four times in a row in 1952 – once put it like this: “I don’t care if he was playing against orangutans, winning 11 straight is amazing.”
At the Memphis Invitational, the run came to an end, although Nelson returned to winning ways at his very next event, finishing ten clear.
Tiger Woods' 142 straight cuts
Up until injuries caught up with him, missed cuts for Woods were as rare as hen’s teeth.
In fact, he won 43 times before registering his second missed cut as a pro.
One of these unusual events occurred at the Byron Nelson Championship on May 13, 2005 – and it brought an end to an incredible seven-year run that stretched back to the 1998 Buick Invitational.
Even on his off days, he would always find a way to make it through to the weekend.
During this period, he won 36 tournaments, including eight Majors.
“Not too bad” is how Woods described his record stretch after bogeying the last at Cottonwood Valley in Texas to miss the cut by a single shot (pictured).
“I fight all the way in. That’s how I am,” he said.
“I think that’s indicative to the longevity of the streak. You’ve got to give it everything you’ve got.”
It was ironic that the streak should end where it did.
Woods had passed Nelson’s record of 113 consecutive cuts made in 2003.
Jack Nicklaus is the only other player to have hit triple digits with 105.
For Woods, it was a minor bump in the road.
In his next nine tournaments, he finished outside the top four just once and won three times.
Jack Nicklaus' 18 Majors
Woods winning Major number 15 at Augusta in 2019 – his first for 11 years – has reopened the debate on whether he could pass Nicklaus’ total of 18.
It wouldn’t be a shock if Woods managed to match Nicklaus with a sixth Masters title, but at the age of 45 – and up against a young generation who show no fear – the odds of adding four more Major Championships are stacked against him.
If, as seems likely, Woods comes up short, one of golf’s longest-running debates will fall silent.
Scroll down the list of players with the most Major wins and of those still playing and under the age of 40, you’ll find Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka on four, and Jordan Spieth on three.
McIlroy was once part of the Major record conversation, but finds himself on a six-and-a-half-year drought.
By comparison, between 1962 and 1980, Nicklaus never went more than two seasons without winning a Major, including the 1978 Open (pictured).
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Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.
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