WHO are the 10 Best Left-Handed Players in Golf History?
Across all walks of life, left-handed golfers seem to always be significantly outnumbered, and although there aren't any empirical disadvantages to golfing from the right side of the golf ball, there have been relatively few successful left-handed golfers on the PGA Tour.
There are many theories aiming to justify the reasoning behind this disparity, for example the lack of readily available left-handed equipment, but there have still been a number of Southpaws to make a name for themselves, while paving the way for future Southpaws in the process.
We turned back the clocks to the PGA Tours inception back in 1929 in order to bring you the 10 best left-handed players in the History of Golf.
10. Nick O'Hern
Getty Images/Paul Kane
PGA Tour Wins: 0
Professional Wins: 6
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 16 (January 28, 2007)
Birthday: October 18, 1971
Despite never having won on the PGA Tour, Nick O'Hern sustained success on major tours around the world for several decades, beginning in 1994 when he turned Professional. Hailing from Australia, O'Hern earned several years inside the Top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings and reached a career high of 16 in 2007. Largely contributing to his notable position among the worlds best were the 23 top-10 finishes he earned throughout the course of 13 years on the PGA Tour. If you ever run into him, he may not be afraid to mention that he was the only man to beat World #1 Tiger Woods not once, but twice in the WGC Accenture World Match Play Championship.
9. Eric Axley
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
PGA Tour Wins: 1 (2006 Valero Texas Open)
Professional Wins: 5
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 169
Birthday: April 22, 1974
Eric Axley was born and raised in Tennessee and turned professional in 1997 at the age of 23. He earned his lone PGA Tour victory at the 2006 Valero Texas Open, at the beginning of one of the best streaks of his career spanning the 2006-2010 seasons, during which he competed in at least 29 PGA Tour events each season. While Axley is one of the few natural lefties to win on the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour, he has also claimed a couple of victories on the Hooters Tour.
8. Russ Cochran
PGA Tour Wins: 1 (1991 Centel Western Open)
Professional Wins: 9
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 64 (1992)
Birthday: October 31, 1958
Russ Cochran was born and raised in Kentucky, where he went on to attend the University of Kentucky prior to turning professional in 1979 and joining the PGA Tour in 1982. The highlight of his well-rounded professional career came in 1991 when he won the Western Open, and proceeded to finish 10th on the annual PGA Tour money list. In a narrow 2nd came his title at the 2011 Senior British Open, where he held off fellow Americans Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Watson to claim his first PGA Champions Major Championship. The successes of his playing career and additional endeavors contribute to his estimated net worth of $10.7 million.
7. Ted Potter, Jr.
Warren Little/Getty Images
PGA Tour Wins: 1 (2012 Greenbrier Classic)
Professional Wins: 19
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 73
Birthday: November 9, 1983
As a Florida native, Ted Potter Jr. experienced youth dominance which continued through high school, contributing to his decision of forgoing a collegiate career to turn professional upon high school graduation in 2002. What may come as slightly disheartening to truly left-handed golfers - Potter Jr. is naturally right-handed, but his decision to embrace the Southpaw way facilitated a fulfilling career, including a win on the PGA Tour and two wins on the Web.com Tour. Perhaps Potter Jr.'s legacy, however, is as a career journeyman golfer and mini-tour legend as it's estimated he's notched 60+ mini-tour victories, including 12 titles on the Hooters Tour.
6. Brian Harman
PGA Tour Wins: 2
Professional Wins: 4
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 20
Birthday: January 19, 1987
Brian Harman was born in Savannah, Georgia and is one of the younger, more promising talents on the PGA Tour, let alone the Southpaw community. Harman assembled an impressive Amateur resume, winning the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2003, the Players Amateur in 2005, and participating on the winning 2005 and 2009 Walker Cup teams. Harman played a pivotal role on the University of Georgia Golf team, where he parlayed several event victories with the yearly award for the highest GPA, three times. Five years after turning professional in 2009, Harman's first PGA Tour victory was at the John Deere Classic in 2014, after which he waited three years to win his second PGA Tour title at the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. Harman has continued to trend in recent years, and expect him to keep tallying onto his already impressive career earnings of ~$18,000,000 as of 2021.
5. Steve Flesch
Kate Awtrey/Mitsubishi Electric Classic
PGA Tour Wins: 4
Professional Wins: 9
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 22 (June 27, 2004)
Birthday: May 23, 1967
Steve Flesch was born in Ohio and turned professional in 1990 after concluding his successful Amateur career at the University of Kentucky. By winning the 1997 NIKE Tour Championship, he became only the second left-hander to win on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. The beginning of his PGA Tour success occurred in 2003 when he won the HP Classic of New Orleans, but perhaps his most notable win followed shortly thereafter when he emerged victorious in come-from-behind fashion at the 2004 Bank of America Colonial Championship in Texas. Flesch has proven his game translates to the greatest of tests, notching top-10 results in 3 of 4 Major championships, and a T20 finish at the 2000 Open Championship. Beginning in 2005, Flesch joined Fox Sports as an Analyst.
4. Bob Charles
PGA Tour Wins: 6
Professional Wins: 79
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: NA
Birthday: March 14, 1936
Sir Robert Charles should perhaps be higher on the all-time greatest lefty list as he was a trailblazer for the Southpaw community and for the game of golf in general. His achievements have withstood the test of time and span 5 decades - he earned well over 70 professional wins, including a win at The Open Championship in 1963, making him the first lefty to win a major title. Charles began his professional playing career in 1960 in his homeland of New Zealand, where he soon after won the New Zealand PGA Championship and ventured overseas to European and North American circuits. In 1963, Charles won his first ever PGA Tour event on American soil at the Houston Classic, which was also the first PGA Tour event won by a left-handed golfer - that same year he won The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, yet it's widely considered that his most notable win was at the 1969 World Matchplay Championship. Charles went on to experience massive success on the PGA Champions Tour, winning 23 titles prior to being the first left-handed golfer inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008, where he remained the lone lefty until accompanied by Phil Mickelson in 2011.
3. Mike Weir
PGA Tour Wins: 8
Professional Wins: 15
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 3
Birthday: May 12, 1970
Mike Weir has been the best Canadian-born golfer of all-time, having spent over 110 consecutive weeks in the Official World Golf Ranking's top-10 between 2001 and 2005. Upon turning professional in 1992, he immediately won three events on the Canadian Professional Golf Tour. Among his 8 career PGA Tour titles, his most notable victory was at the 2003 Masters Tournament, becoming the only Canadian male to ever win a major championship, and the 2nd lefty to win a major champion behind our #4 Bob Charles (soon followed by our next guests). His game has been battle tested over the past three decades, as he's earned top-10 finishes in every Major championship, and his display of consistency earned him the distinct recognition at #12 on Canada's 100 Greatest Athletes of All Time in 2010. He continues to make a lasting impression on the PGA Champions Tour, and enjoys a current estimated net worth of $25 million.
2. Bubba Watson
PGA Tour Wins: 12
Professional Wins: 14
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 2
Birthday: November 5, 1978
Bubba Watson was born in Florida, and ultimately capped off his Amateur career at the reigning NCAA Champion Bulldogs of the University of Georgia. He contributed to the Bulldogs capturing the SEC title in 2000, momentum which he rode into his professional debut in 2002 on the Nationwide Tour, where he seemingly stalled and took longer than expected to develop. He burst onto the scene of the PGA Tour in 2006, leading the Tour is driving distance as a rookie, averaging 319.6 yards off the tee (he would regain this title at the top of the driving category five times to date, additionally during the 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2014 seasons). Watson would claim his first PGA Tour win several years later at the 2010 Travelers Championship, in dramatic fashion on the 2nd hole of a sudden-death playoff with Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank. However, the most distinguishing feats in professional golf are Major championships, of which Bubba Watson proudly owns 2 victories, both occurring at Augusta National during the Masters Tournament in 2012 and 2014. Watson has earned ~$46,000,000 from his tournament winnings over the course of his career, and his current estimated net worth is ~$30,000,000 as of 2020.
1. Phil Mickelson
PGA Tour Wins: 44 (9th all time)
Professional Wins: 54
Highest Official World Golf Ranking: 2 (February 11, 2001)
Birthday: June 16, 1970
Phil Mickelson's position as the best left-handed golfer to ever live goes without saying, as his resume positions him as one of the best overall players in the history of the sport. Legend has it that Phil actually began playing golf left-handed because he was always watching his father swing righty, and he applied the mirror image. Phil boasts one of the more illustrious Amateur careers of all-time: he was the first lefty to win the USGA Amateur Championship during his time at Arizona State University, where he won 3 NCAA Individual Championships and earned first-team All-American honors all four years. Perhaps his greatest achievement as an Amateur was in winning his first PGA Tour event at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, and during the same year continuing on to become the Low Amateur at the Masters Tournament. Mickelson would turn professional in 1992 and never look back - among his 44 PGA Tour victories reside 5 major championship titles: 3 Masters titles (2004, 2006, 2010), PGA Championship (2005), Open Championship (2013). The U.S. Open remains the elusive Major championship during which Mickelson has experienced several dramatic and heartbreaking finishes, ultimately coming in 2nd place on 6 separate occasions. Mickelson is still playing championship caliber golf to this day, winning his debut event on the PGA Champions Tour in June, 2020. Phil's successes both on and off the golf course have resulted in an estimated net worth of nearly $400,000,000 as of 2020.