Golfers With the Most 2nd-Place Finishes in Majors

Which golfers have finished in second place most often in men's major championships? The list appears below, and it is almost as full of all-time greats as is the list of golfers who won the most majors. You have to be a pretty good golfer, after all, to repeatedly come close to winning a major.

As a reminder, the four majors in men's professional golf are The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. And the golfer with the most runner-up finishes in those four tournaments is the same guy who won more of them than anyone else.

The Record-Holder: Jack Nicklaus, 19

Jack Nicklaus won 18 major championships. He had even more runners-up: He finished in second place in a major 19 times. That is almost double anyone else in golf history. Only two other golfers — Phil Mickelson and Arnold Palmer — have finished second in at least 10 majors.

The first time Nicklaus was second was at the 1960 U.S. Open, when he was still an amateur. The last time he was runner-up in a major was at the 1983 PGA Championship. In-between, Nicklaus had another 17 second-place finishes.

The Golden Bear's list of almosts breaks down this way: He was second in The Masters four times; in the U.S. Open four times; in the British Open seven times; in the PGA Championship four times.

The List: Most Often Runner-Up in Majors

Jack Nicklaus, 19 second-place finishes
Phil Mickelson, 11
Arnold Palmer, 10
Greg Norman, 8
Sam Snead, 8
Tom Watson, 8
J.H. Taylor, 7
Ernie Els, 6
Ben Hogan, 6
Byron Nelson, 6
Gary Player, 6
Harry Vardon, 6
Tiger Woods, 6
Ben Crenshaw, 5
Raymond Floyd, 5
Colin Montgomerie, 5
Tom Weiskopf, 5
Craig Wood, 5
James Braid, 4
Billy Casper, 4
Harry Cooper, 4
Bruce Crampton, 4
Sergio Garcia, 4
Dustin Johnson, 4
Bobby Jones, 4
Tom Kite, 4
Cary Middlecoff, 4
Johnny Miller, 4
Louis Oosthuizen, 4
Willie Park Sr., 4
Doug Sanders, 4
Gene Sarazen, 4
Jordan Spieth, 4
Payne Stewart, 4
Lanny Wadkins, 4

Every golfer on the above list won at least one major championship title, with four exceptions: Montgomerie, Cooper, Crampton and Sanders. You can read more about those four in our article, Golfers Who Finished 2nd in the Most Majors Without Winning. The most notable absence on the list is that of Walter Hagen, who is third all-time in majors won with 11. Hagen was runner-up in only two majors.

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