Top 10 Golfers In the History of the Champions Tour

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Who are the best golfers in the history of the Champions Tour? Below we give you our ranking of the Top 10 players ever on the senior circuit. The Champions Tour was founded in 1980, and we consider the golfers' accomplishments only during their time playing that tour, after turning age 50. What they did on the PGA Tour doesn't figure into our rankings. So, without further adieu, here are the Top 10 Champions Tour golfers ever.

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Hale Irwin

Hale Irwin collected a lot of trophies on the Champions Tour. He's the all-time leader in wins on the senior circuit.
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This is the easiest pick in our Top 10. Irwin, without a doubt, is the best Champions Tour golfer ever. He won 45 times, which is 16 more than anyone else. Consider this: Not only does Irwin lead with 45 Champions Tour wins, but no other golfer has even reached 30 wins. Irwin also won seven senior majors, second-best in tour history. He was Player of the Year three times, money leader three times, and scoring leader four times.

Irwin showed remarkable consistency and longevity, too. He won twice in his age-50 season (1995), and from then until 2005, when he turned 60, Irwin never won fewer than twice a year, or had fewer than 11 Top 10 finishes. That included seasons of nine wins (1997) and seven (1998). His last win was in 2007, at age 62.

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Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer of Germany

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Langer was a model of consistency from the moment he joined the over-50 tour. In his first seven Champions Tour seasons, he led the tour in money five times — in fact, he led every year he was healthy and able to play a full schedule in that time period. In 2014, Langer became the 10th golfer to reach 20 Champions Tour wins. At the 2014 Senior British Open, Langer won his third senior major and set a tournament record — and a record for all senior majors — for largest margin of victory (13 strokes). He finished 2014 with five wins, two wins in majors, and led the tour in wins, money and scoring average.

After that superb 2014 season, Langer had five seasons in which he led the tour in wins, and five leading in earnings — both all-time bests. He also won his fourth Player of the Year Award, the only Champions Tour golfer to win that award four times.

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Lee Trevino

As a senior golfer, Lee Trevino won 29 times on the Champions Tour, matching his PGA Tour win total.
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Trevino burst onto the Champions Tour in 1990 with 15 Top 2 finishes, including seven victories. Most of his wins were in his ages 50 through 55 years, a period during which he won more than twice each year. He won only three times afterward. But during his 50-55 years, Trevino won 26 senior tournaments. With the latter three, Trevino reached 29 wins — second-best behind Irwin.

Trevino won four senior majors, tied for seventh-best on the list of golfers with the most senior major wins. But his four included the two most important ones, the U.S. Senior Open, and Senior PGA Championship. Trevino won three Player of the Year awards, two Champions Tour money titles, and three scoring titles.

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Jack Nicklaus

PGA Tour legend Jack Nicklaus with Kenny G

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The Golden Bear didn't win any Champions Tour awards, never led in money or scoring, and won only 10 titles total. So what's he doing this high? There are two reasons we rank Nicklaus so high:

  1. Eight of his 10 Champions Tour wins came in majors, which is the record for most wins in senior majors;
  2. Nicklaus won those 10 titles and eight majors in a paltry number of Champions Tour starts.

The only reason Nicklaus' overall win total is relatively low is that he played so few tournaments. He never played more than nine Champions Tour events, and that was in 2003, 13 years after his senior circuit debut in 1990.

From age 50 to 56 years, Nicklaus only played 4, 5, 4, 6, 6, 7 and 7 Champions Tour tournaments, respectively. He won one-fourth of those starts. He played only nine times combined in his first two seasons, but won five of those starts and finished in the Top 3 seven times. It's easy to believe that had Nicklaus played 15 times a year, he'd be No. 1 on this list. But he didn't. He only made "special guest star" appearances on the Champions Tour. He just did fantastic work in that very low number of starts.

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Gary Player

Gary Player won 19 Champions Tour tournaments, including six majors.
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Player's first Champions Tour win was in 1985, and his last in 1998. That's a span of competitiveness that rivals Irwin's, although Player didn't have nearly the quantity of success that Irwin did. Player's 19 overall Champions Tour victories rank 11th in tour history. But that total includes six wins in majors, which is tied for third-best. In 1987-88, Player won a total of eight times — including a Champions Tour-record three consecutive majors (1987 Senior Players Championship, 1987 U.S. Senior Open, 1988 Senior PGA).

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Miller Barber

Golfer Miller Barber, pictured on the Champions Tour in 1993.
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Barber was the most consistent winner over the first decade of the Champions Tour, winning three of six starts in 1981, and winning at least once each year through 1989. He led the tour in money twice and was runner-up twice more; and led in scoring once. (The tour didn't start awarding Player of the Year until 1990.) Barber won 24 times, fourth-best on the Champions Tour; and he won five senior majors, tied for fifth-best. Three of those majors were U.S. Senior Opens, and Barber remains the only 3-time winner of that tournament.

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Gil Morgan

Gil Morgan at the 1998 Senior Players Championship.
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Morgan is another of the most consistent performers in Champions Tour history. He posted victories in 11 different seasons, winning as late as age 61. That included two 6-win years (1997-98). He won 25 titles overall, third-best in tour history, and three senior majors. Morgan also won two scoring titles. He never led the tour in money but finished in the Top 10 nine times.

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Chi Chi Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez and Chi Chi Rodriguez

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One of the most popular players in Champions Tour history, Chi Chi — whether he was playing great or playing poorly — always put on a show. And over his first decade on the senior circuit, Rodriguez played great far more often than he played poorly. His best year — one of the best ever on the tour — was 1987, when he won seven times, had four seconds and three thirds, and led the tour in money and scoring. Rodriguez set a tour record that year by winning four consecutive tournaments. Overall, Rodriguez posted 22 wins, including two senior majors. He lost an 18-hole playoff to Nicklaus at the 1991 U.S. Senior Open and had only a 1-7 record in Champions Tour playoffs.

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Tom Watson

Tom Watson won six senior majors during his Champions Tour career.
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Watson is another golfer who never played a lot of tournaments on the Champions Tour. He played more than Nicklaus — an average of around 12 to 13 events a year — but not nearly as often as, say, Trevino or Morgan. Watson still won 14 times, and he won six senior majors (tied with Player for third-best). Watson also managed to win a money title, a scoring title and a Player of the Year award despite his limited senior schedule (all in 2003). However, Watson never won more than twice in a given season, and three of his majors are Senior British Opens, which generally had a much weaker field than the majors. His Champions Tour playoff record was only 3-8.

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Don January

Don January
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January was 51 by the time the Champions Tour was formed in 1980, and there wasn't a full schedule of events the first couple years. Still, he won 22 times including the Senior PGA in 1982. January was the tour scoring leader in five of its first six years of existence, and the money leader three of the first five years.