South Africa is one of the world's best golfing nations - but who are the best?


10 Of The Best South African Golfers Of All Time

South Africa has produced some world-class golfers that have won quite literally all over the world. Below, in no particular order, we take a look at 10 of the best.

Gary Player

Born: 1935
Tour Wins: 163
Majors: 18 (9 Major wins and 9 Senior Major Championships)

Best South African Golfers Of All Time

The most successful golfer ever from the nation of South Africa, Gary Player redefined what the term ‘global golfer’ really meant.

He won tournaments all over the world including 24 times on the PGA Tour, 63 times on the Sunshine Tour, 18 times on the PGA Tour of Australasia and countless others in nations like Brazil, China, Japan and so on.

He is also one of the very few golfers to have completed the Career Grand Slam by winning all four Major championships.

A proud South African, he also represented the country 16 times at the World Cup.

Ernie Els 

Born: 1969
Tour Wins: 71
Majors: 4

Best South African Golfers Of All Time

Theodore Ernest Els, the man with one of the most aesthetically pleasing swings in golf, had a hugely successful career made even more impressive by the fact he played during the era of Tiger Woods’ dominance.

In all, Els won 71 times as a professional including four Major Championships (two US Opens and two Open Championships), won the European Tour Order of Merit twice and got to World Number One.

He also played for the International team during the Presidents Cup eight times with the 2003 edition being of particular note. Both teams were tied on 17 points and Ernie battled Tiger in a sudden-death playoff to decide the winner. The pair halved three holes before a draw was decided because of bad light.

Retief Goosen

Born: 1969
Tour Wins: 37
Majors: 2

Best South African Golfers Of All Time

Another South African golfer who was at the top of his game during Tiger’s dominance, Goosen was a player widely thought to be unflappable as shown by his 2004 US Open performance at Shinnecock Hills.

As everyone complained about the unfairness of the setup, Goosen kept chugging along to win by two strokes from Phil Mickelson.

Goosen would go on to win multiple times on several different Tours and has already made a stunning start to his PGA Champions career winning his first senior Major at the 2019 Senior Players Championship.

Like Ernie, Goosen played on several Presidents Cup matches and contributed 3 huge points to help the International team tie in 2003.

Louis Oosthuizen

Born: 1982
Tour Wins: 14
Majors: 1

The peak of Oosthuizen’s golf career undoubtedly came at the 2010 Open Championship where he destroyed the field to win by 7 strokes at St Andrews.

Then, five years later he nearly won the tournament again but narrowly lost in a playoff alongside Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman. In fact Oosthuizen’s Major record is very impressive as he has come second in every Major at least once.

The picture above is from the 2012 Masters where, despite his albatross on the second hole, he lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson.

Bobbe Locke

Born: 1917
Died: 1987
Tour Wins: 74
Majors: 4

Arthur D’Arcy ‘Bobby’ Locke was a hugely prolific winner during his playing career especially at The Open Championship.

In an nine year stretch from 1949-1957, he won the Major four times, and that included four other top-10s.

Locke sits third all time for Sunshine Tour wins in his native South Africa with 30. Gary Player and Mark McNulty are the only players ahead of him. Indeed Player himself once said of Locke; “One six-foot putt, for my life? I’ll take Bobby Locke. I’ve seen them all, and there was never a putter like him.”

Charl Schwartzel

Born: 1984
Tour Wins: 15
Majors: 1

Immelman became the third winner of The Masters in 2011 thanks to a final-round 66 that saw him overturn a four-stroke deficit. This included four birdies in a row from the 15th hole.

The victory has been the apex of a career that has also included 14 other professional victories.

David Frost

Born: 1959
Tour Wins: 29
Majors: 0

Another golfer who spent a lot of time playing internationally, Frost has won 29 times professionally, including 10 times in the United States.

He also represented the International side at the Presidents Cup twice.

Trevor Immelman

Born: 1979
Tour Wins: 11
Majors: 1

Not many golfers can say they made a double-bogey during the final-round of a Major, battled Tiger Woods and still emerged victorious. At the 2008 Masters Tournament Immelman did just that as he shot a final-round 75 to win by three.

To add to that he has won on multiple Tours and represented his country on numerous occasions.

Branden Grace

Born: 1988
Tour Wins: 12
Majors: 0

Back in 2017 Grace became the first player to shoot a sub-63 in a Major, shooting 62 at the Open Championship held at Royal Birkdale.

However his finest season to date came in 2012 in which he won four times on the European Tour, including two tournaments in a row at the Joburg Open and then Volvo Golf Champions.

Tim Clark

Born: 1975
Tour Wins: 12
Majors: 0

Our final player on this list is Tim Clark. The 2010 Players Champion has won 12 times to date despite niggling injuries that have often hindered his golf game.

His best finish in a Major came the 2006 Masters thanks to holing out for birdie on the 18th hole. He finished two back from Phil Mickelson.

Other worthy mentions: Sid Brews, John Bland, Darren Fichardt, Justin Harding.

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