The highest 72-hole scores to win all four men's major championships

Gary Player
USA Today Sports Images
Gary Player is one of three golfers to win the PGA Championship with a 1-over 281. Player did so in 1972 at Oakland Hills.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 | 2:04 p.m.

It's no surprise that the four major championships -- the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship -- are considered the most difficult to win.
 
They're played on tough courses and, in order to win, you have to be both the best physically and mentally for that particular week.
 
The thing that's so endearing to golf fans about the majors, is that watching the world's best players struggle a little but is something we can all relate too. 
 
Granted, the struggles of Joe Blow Average Golfer would be far greater playing those same courses. The point is, we can relate to grinding for an eventful par, bogey or double.
 
 
With the significance and difficulty of the majors in mind, it got us wondering: What are the highest, 72-hole, winning totals for all four men's major championships?
 
Here's a look.
 
The Masters
 
Contested all but three times since it began in 1934 (it was cancelled from 1943-45 due to World War II), there have been just four occasions in which even par or worse has won the Masters.
 
The highest winning total in Masters history is 1-over-par 289. It has happened three times: 1954 Masters, 1956 Masters and 2007 Masters.
 
In 1954, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were both tied at that mark after 72 holes. Snead would win an 18-hole playoff the next day with a 2-under 70 to Hogan's 71.
 
At the 1956 Masters, Jackie Burke, Jr., was a one-stroke winner at 1-over 289 over then-amateur Ken Venturi. 
 
Finally, in 2007, Zach Johnson emerged victorious at 1-over 289, two strokes better than runners up, Retief Goosen, Tiger Woods and Rory Sabbatini.
 
The U.S. Open
 
Since 1930, the U.S. Open has produced more winners with scores of even par or worse than any of the others with 35 total. It should be noted here that "par" did not enter the golf lexicon until 1911, when the USGA defined it as "perfect play without flukes and under ordinary weather conditions, always allowing two strokes on each putting green."
 
The Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, lays claim to the highest-recorded winning score in U.S. Open history. That record belongs to Willie Anderson and Alex Smith, who were tied at 331 total in 1901 -- remember, "par" wasn't part of the golf vernacular just yet, so they simply added their respective number of strokes per hole.
 
Anderson would win an 18-hole, Monday playoff with a score of 85 -- one stroke better than Smith's 86.
 
The Open Championship
 
Golf's oldest major -- the Open Championship -- has been played since 1860, which was 35 years before the first contested U.S. Open at Rhode Island's Newport Country Club.
 
Interesting to note, The Open wasn't a 72-hole tournament until 1892. It was only 36 holes until then. 
 
England's J.H. Taylor owns the record for highest, 72-hole score by a winner when his 326 total at St. George's won the 1894 Open. It was five strokes better than runner up, Douglas Rolland.
 
The PGA Championship
 
The PGA Championship was first played in 1916. But, from 1916-1957, it was a match-play event.
 
Since becoming a stroke-play major in 1958, there have been just four instances where even par or worse has been enough to win the Wanamaker Trophy. 
 
The highest, 72-hole winning total in PGA Championship history is 1-over-par 281. It's been recorded on three occasions.
 
Jay Hebert in 1960 at Akron, Ohio's Firestone Country Club, South Course, was the first to do so. It was good for a one-stroke triumph over Australia's Jim Ferrier.
 
At Pecan Valley Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas, during the 1968 PGA, Julius Boros topped New Zealand's Bob Charles and Arnold Palmer by one stroke at 1-over 281.
 
Gary Player won his second career PGA Championship by two shots over Tommy Aaron and Jim Jamieson at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1972 at 1-over 281.
 
The last 1-over 281 to win the PGA came in 1976. That's when Dave Stockton edged Raymond Floyd and Don January by one stroke at Congressional Country Club.
 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.