We were all reminded during Tom Watson’s narrow, heartbreaking loss at the British Open that the oldest player to win a major in the modern era was Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48.
For many of us, that’s not nearly as resonant as Jack Nicklaus’ surprising resurgence at the 1986 Masters, with the big putter and floppy hair (even by Nicklaus standards) and plaid pants.
Watson, at 59, would have blown anyone else away. Here’s the five oldest to win a major since World War II, duly annotated as Tuesday’s Top Five:
5. Raymond Floyd, 1986 U.S. Open, 43 years, 9 months, 11 days – Only a few months after Nicklaus wowed the crowds at Augusta, Floyd turned back the clock at Shinnecock, firing a final-round 66 to move past Hal Sutton, Lee Trevino and Ben Crenshaw.
4. Roberto De Vicenzo, 1967 British Open, 44 years, 3 months, 2 days – De Vicenzo might have appeared on this list twice had he not famously signed an incorrect scorecard at the 1968 Masters, dropping out of a playoff and into second place.
3. Hale Irwin, 1990 U.S. Open, 45 years, 15 days – Irwin’s third Open title, and a victory best remembered for Irwin’s lap around the 18th green at Medinah, high-fiving fans as he forced a 19-hole playoff with Mike Donald.
2. Nicklaus, 1986 Masters, 46 years, 2 months, 23 days – With that monstrous putter like a flashlight tied to a string, Nicklaus came from behind to surpass a flailing Greg Norman, rolling in a birdie at 17 to take the lead. For kids, their parents and grandparents alike, it was a Sunday of sheer magic.
1. Boros, 1968 PGA Championship, 48 years, 4 months, 18 days – Not only the oldest winner of a major, but nearly became the PGA Tour’s oldest winner overall when he lost in a playoff to Gene Littler at the 1975 Westchester Classic. Boros, who died in 1994, was 55.