Fast & Fascinating facts

Mike Wilson

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus

1. One & Done

–       When we think of professional golf, our thoughts automatically turn to the 82 career wins of Tiger Woods, the 18 ‘Majors’ held by Jack Nicklaus and LPGA stars Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Annika Sörenstam with 86, 82 and 72 career victories respectively.

–       However, hundreds of professionals the world over have plied their trade for many years without ever occupying the winner’s enclosure or having to deliver a Sunday evening a champion’s speech.


–       And when it comes to the ‘Majors,’ recent records reveal a number of players who have tasted success at one of the four Grand Slam events, never to repeat the feat, erring the title of, ‘One Hit Wonders.’

–       Of them, two Americans stand out in particular, rank outsiders Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton lifting the coveted Claret Jug in successive years in 2003 and 2004 respectively, their compatriots Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard, both amongst the favourites blazing the, ‘One & Done’ trail with Open Championship victories in 1996 and 1997.

–       Meanwhile, the Claret Jug appears to be the favourite ‘Major’ amongst the ‘One Hit Wonders,’ with, in recent times, Mark Calcavecchia, Ian Baker-Finch, Stewart Cink, Tom Weiskopf, David Duval, Darren Clarke, Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry all recording their sole ‘Major’ victory at the most prestigious of them all, the Open Championship.


2. One Swallow Doesn’t Always Make a Summer

–       As the old adage goes, one win doesn’t always make a summer, although in the case of the late, great Irish professional Christy O’Connor Jnr, it did in 1975, when he won his first two European Tour events, the second of which was the coveted Irish Open.

–       However, it was to be 14 long years and almost 250 tournaments later that the popular Irishman was to add to his winning streak at the 1989 Jersey Open, the longest streak between victories in European Tour history.

–       Meanwhile, if winning can become – as some say it does – a habit, great friends and rivals Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer – two thirds of the ‘Big 3’ – were clearly hooked, the pair both going 17 seasons in a row registering at least one victory per year, one ahead of Billy Casper, who win on 16 successive seasons between 1956 and 1971.

  1. Successful Streaks

–       Like most sports, in golf, when your eye is in and your confidence is high, you seemingly just can’t stop winning, finishing top of the pile almost appears to be a habit. As professional golf resumed in 1945 after World War II, US star Byron Nelson found he just could not stop winning, recording a world record 11 consecutive tournament wins, two match play victories (including the USPGA Championship) and nine stroke play tournaments by an average winning margin of seven strokes.

–       Nelson was utterly dominant that year, winning a total of 18 tournaments on what was the forerunner to the PGA Tour, almost one-third of a career total that included five ‘Major,’ titles (but never the Open Championship), and, talk about quitting at the top – the Texan retired the year after the most remarkable season in pro golf history, at the age of just 33.

–       Meanwhile, when it comes to making the halfway cut, even the achievements of Tiger Woods – who famously made the weekend 142 times in succession between February 1998 and May 2005 – pale into insignificance compared to LPGA star Jane Blalock; a rookie in 1969, she did not experience a tournament weekend off for 11 seasons, when she missed the cut for the first time ever at the 1980 Inamori Classic, breaking a remarkable run of 299 cuts made, still a world record to this day.

  1. A Man of Many Names – and a Number Too

–       South African star Louis Oosthuizen enjoys not only a fine record as a golfer – having won the Open Championship in 2010 and at St. Andrews, no less – but also a very formal full name and a nickname in honour of one of the most famous cartoon characters in Hollywood movie history.

–       The man who rewarded himself for his debut – and to date only ‘Major’ title first by sleeping with the Claret Jug on the night of his triumph at the ‘Home of Golf,’ and second by buying a brand new John Deere tractor for his beef farm on the Garden Route was christened, ‘Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen’ – more potential classics scholar than future champion golfer – at the request of his grandfather, a name that appears on his passport to this day.

–       But, ‘Louis,’ as, ‘Lodewicus’ became shortened too for brevity and informality was subsequently handed an altogether more contemporary – and informal – moniker by his contemporaries at the Ernie Els Academy where he learned his trade, becoming affectionately called, ‘Shrek’ due to his perceived likeness to the eponymous friendly green ogre character in the 2001 DreamWorks production.

–       Oosthuizen, who turned professional in 2002 and whose highest-ever world raking to date was #4 in January 2013 has frequently said, “‘Shrek,’ is OK, but just don’t call me, ‘Lodewicus,’”

–       But, even with such distinctive formal and informal names, the man who is also renowned for a number, #57 after his record-breaking round over his home Mossel Bay Golf Club in 2002 was once mistaken by a member of the media following a fine round of golf’ “Well done, ‘Peter,” said the journalist, confusing the South African with former English Ryder Cup star Peter Oosterhuis, ‘Shrek’ graciously shrugging-off the error.

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