Who are the best golfers to come from Down Under? Australia is a relatively small (in terms of population) country that has produced many good and great professional golfers. Here are our picks for the Top 10 Aussie golfers ever.
In the eight years from 1951-58, Thomson won the British Open four times, was second twice and finished sixth the other time. For good measure, he added a fifth Open title in 1965, plus nine other Top 10 finishes in the tournament. Thomson rarely played in the United States (not unusual for international players of his era), including the majors, but did have a fourth-place at the Masters and a fifth at the U.S. Open. He also won once on the PGA Tour in 1956. As a senior golfer, he had one dominating Champions Tour year with nine victories in 1985. He won 26 times on the European circuit that preceded formation of the European Tour, and 34 times in Australia and New Zealand.
2. Greg Norman
Norman is probably so well-known for his losses - a combination of some chokes (such as the 1996 Masters) and some rotten luck (such as the 1987 Masters) - that his successes are often overlooked. But as Tom Watson once said, "A lot of guys who have never choked have never been in the position to do so." Norman put himself in position a lot, and sometimes he failed to get the job done. But 20 times, he won on the PGA Tour, and twice he won the British Open. He was the PGA Tour's leading money winner three times, its scoring leader three times, and its Player of the Year in 1995. He was considered the best golfer in the world for long stretches during his career. He had 30 Top 10 finishes in majors. Should he have won more? Yes. But he won a lot as it was, nearly 90 times around the world.
3. David Graham
Graham had a reputation as a tough, big-tournament player. He finished in the Top 10 in majors 16 times, and that included two wins: the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open. At the PGA, Graham shot 65 in the final round to force a playoff, then beat Ben Crenshaw with a series of big putts. Graham won eight times on the USPGA, plus five times on the Champions Tour, and also had wins in Europe, Australia, South America, South Africa and Japan.
4. Adam Scott
Scott had a pretty good career going - eight PGA Tour wins, including the 2004 Players Championship and a WGC win - but was stuck on those "best golfers without a major" lists. Then he won the 2013 Masters. Scott has seven other wins on the European Tour (outside of the Masters and the WGC victory), plus wins in Asia, South Africa and Australia. His wins on the PGA Tour of Australasia include the 2009 Australian Open and 2012 Australian Masters. He's been a regular at the Presidents Cup throughout his career, been as high as third in the world rankings, and finished as high as third on the USPGA money list.
5. Steve ElkingtonElkington probably didn't achieve as much as he should have on the PGA Tour, his career hampered several times by battles with injuries and illness. But he did win 10 times, including the 1991 Players Championship. And the big one: the 1995 PGA Championship, where Elkington beat Colin Montgomerie in a playoff. Elkington was in another playoff at a major, but lost the 2002 British Open to Ernie Els (Stuart Appleby and Thomas Levet were also in the playoff). He had six other Top 5 finishes in majors. Elkington is now playing the Champions Tour.
6. Bruce Crampton
Bruce Crampton was one of the best golfers in the world in the first half of the 1970s. He won four times on the PGA Tour in 1973, and earned the PGA Tour's Vardon Trophy for low scoring average in 1973 and 1975. But he probably has nightmares about Jack Nicklaus. Crampton finished second in four majors during that period - the 1972 Masters and U.S. Open, the 1973 PGA Championship and 1975 PGA. Who beat him? All four times, he was runner-up to Nicklaus. So Crampton never won a major, but he did win 14 PGA Tour titles, plus another 20 on the Champions Tour.
7. Kel Nagle
Arnold Palmer famously helped revitalize the British Open by crossing the pond to play the 1960 Open, at a time when most American stars rarely if ever played it. But Palmer finished second that year to Kel Nagle. Nagle was 39 years old but playing in a major for only the fourth time - he had played mostly on the Australasian Tour to that point (a tour on which he eventually won 61 times). So Nagle's best years were arguably already behind him. Yet he was competitive throughout his 40s. He was runner-up to Palmer at the 1961 Open, and lost a playoff to Gary Player at the 1965 U.S. Open. But he also won during the 1960s at the French Open and Canadian Open, among other titles, and from 1960-66 finished in the Top 5 at the British Open all but one year.
8. Jim FerrierBut the time Ferrier won the 1947 PGA Championship, he had taken up United States citizenship. But he was born in Manly, New South Wales, and won 10 times on the Australasian Tour in the 1930s. He moved to America to try the USPGA Tour in the 1940s, and he was winning tournaments there from 1944 through 1961 - 18 wins in all, including his one major. Ferrier was runner-up in three other majors.
9. Geoff Ogilvy
Ogilvy hasn't won a lot on the PGA Tour, and hasn't been all that consistent. But the tournaments he has won have mostly been marquee events. Of his seven wins through the 2012 season, three were WGC tournaments, twice he won the winners-only PGA Tour season-opener, and then there's that 2006 U.S. Open title. He finished inside the Top 10 on the money list twice.
10. Stuart ApplebyAppleby has been in the PGA Tour's Top 10 money winners only once, but he has 10 career wins, plus is one of the golfers who has shot 59 on tour. His first USPGA win was in 1997 and most recent in 2010. His victories include three straight years winning what was then called the Mercedes Championship, the season-opening winners-only tournament in Hawaii.
... and honorable mentions to Graham Marsh, Bruce Devlin and Joe Kirkwood Sr.