Youngest Golfers to Win a Major Championship (Men)

PGA Tour Records: Youngest to Win a Major

Young Tom Morris
Young Tom Morris is the youngest major winner in the history of men's golf. James Hardie/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The youngest golfer to win one of the major championships of men's golf is Young Tom Morris, who was only 17 when he captured the 1868 British Open. Dating to the 19th century, Morris' record is one of the oldest in golf.

Young Tom Dominates List of Youngest Major Winners

Below you'll find the list of all golfers younger than 21 who've won a men's major championship. And Young Tom Morris holds the first three spots on the list of youngest men's major winners. (In his lifetime, Tom Morris Jr. was called "Tommy" and his father, Tom Morris Sr., "Tom," but today we call them Young Tom Morris and, naturally, Old Tom Morris).

Morris Jr. won the British Open in 1868 (age 17), 1869 (age 18) and 1870 (age 19). Only one other golfer younger than 20 has won a men's major. Morris almost made the list below a fourth time: he was 21 years, 146 days old when he won the Open Championship for the fourth and final time in 1872.

How impressive is Young Tom's feat? He was a golf prodigy, no doubt. Young Tom first played in a British Open in 1865 at age 14. But you have to keep in mind that professional golf barely existed at the time of his exploits. For example, in Morris' first win in 1868, only 12 golfers played the tournament.

List of Youngest Men's Major Winners

The four major championships in men's golf are The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship. The Masters dates to 1934, the U.S. Open to 1895, the British Open to 1860 and the PGA Championship to 1916.

In the history of golf, a men's major championship has been won by a golfer younger than 21 nine times, but only five golfers account for those nine victories. Here is the list of the youngest male golfers to win one of the four professional majors:

  • Young Tom Morris: 1868 British Open, 17 years 5 months
  • Young Tom Morris: 1869 British Open, 18 years, 4 months
  • Young Tom Morris: 1870 British Open, 19 years, 4 months
  • Johnny McDermott: 1911 U.S. Open, 19 years, 9 months, 14 days
  • Francis Ouimet: 1913 U.S. Open, 20 years, 4 months, 12 days
  • Gene Sarazen: 1922 U.S. Open, 20 years, 4 months, 18 days
  • Gene Sarazen: 1922 PGA Championship, 20 years, 5 months, 22 days
  • Tom Creavy: 1931 PGA Championship, 20 years, 7 months, 17 days
  • Johnny McDermott: 1912 U.S. Open, 20 years, 11 months, 21 days

Three of the wins are Morris', two belong to McDermott and two to Sarazen. Ouimet was an amateur when he won the 1913 U.S. Open.

What About Youngest Major Winners in 'Modern' Golf?

There is one issue with the list above: All of the golfers won their titles in 1931 and earlier. Golf was very different back then. For one thing, The Masters didn't even exist yet (it debuted in 1934). Most significantly, tournament fields were smaller and professional golf had much, much less depth. The more time that passes in golf history, the more difficult winning becomes because the more depth of quality exists in tournaments.

Golf historians often consider the post-World War II era as the "modern" era of golf. So who are the youngest major winners from 1946 to the present? These guys:

On the women's side of professional golf, the list of youngest major winners in women's golf includes multiple champions younger than age 20, and the recordholder was only 18 at the time of her first major championship victory.