Jack Nicklaus, whose record of 18 professional major championship titles has set the standard for excellence in golf, has been voted the "Greatest Golfer of the last 100 years" by readers of UK-based Golf Monthly, the world's longest serving golf magazine.
In a poll revealed in the August edition of the magazine, which celebrates its own centenary this year, the Golden Bear attracted nearly two thirds of the votes (58%) from a list of 20 star players. His nearest challenger was Tiger Woods with 16%, followed by the late Seve Ballesteros (8%).
"His unrivalled achievements clearly mark Jack Nicklaus out as the greatest golfer to have played the game," said editor Michael Harris. "But just three years ago most people would have expected his majors' record to be overtaken by now, which lends even more gravitas to his achievement, especially as he was so far ahead of the rest in the voting."
The Golden Bear was humbled by the news.
"Any time you are recognized for your accomplishments and the work you put in over the years to reach those goals, it is very meaningful," Nicklaus said. "This is certainly very gratifying, and I want to thank Golf Monthly, especially its readers for that recognition. Anyone who knows me realizes how truly special the golf and the golf fans throughout the UK are to me."
"One of the beauties of the game of golf is how steeped it is in tradition and how we embrace our game's past and celebrate those people who laid the foundation. When you look back to 100 years of golf, you are talking about the players I idolized as a youth and the players I admire today. So to be chosen among the many talented golfers over that time period is humbling and greatly appreciated. Again, I want to thank Golf Monthly and its readers, congratulate them on the centennial celebration, and wish them well for the next 100 years."
Nicklaus, who gave an emotional farewell to the game at St Andrews in 2005 having won three Open titles, was placed well ahead of other golf greats like James Braid and Bobby Jones (4%); Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Tom Watson (2%); plus Sir Nick Faldo, Gary Player and Sam Snead. Also well back in the voting was European Tour figurehead Harry Vardon, who won six Open Championships including a century ago at Sandwich.
"Being a great golfer demands more than just playing ability and it was a combination of physical and mental excellence over a prolonged spell that set Nicklaus apart," wrote Golf Monthly.
Gene Sarazen, one of only five players to have won all four Majors (the others being Hogan, Player, Woods and Nicklaus), did not even gain a single vote from nearly 1,200 readers* who voted. Nor did two-time major championship winner Tony Jacklin, although he was rated Europe's "Greatest Ryder Cup Captain" (58%), well ahead of Colin Montgomerie (17%).
Nicklaus was also featured at the top of the voting for both the "Greatest Open Championship of the last 100 years," and the "Most memorable golfing moment of the last century," thanks to his famous Duel in the Sun with Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977.
Ryder Cup hero Lee Westwood is the golfer most Golf Monthly readers (42%) would like to see win the 140th Open Championship this week - ahead of US Open champion Rory McIlroy (13%) and world No.1 Luke Donald (12%).
But the player readers would most like to see pick up a Gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil is Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (27%), followed by Lee Westwood (11%), Luke Donald (10%), and Ian Poulter and Matteo Manassero (both 9%).