Gary Player made news last week when he told the Daily Mail that he ranks the Masters Tournament fourth on his list of major championships.
While recalling his 1978 Masters victory, Player was quoted as saying, “But, never mind the Masters, The Open is by far the greatest tournament on the planet.
"I rate The Open at one, the U.S. Open two, PGA three and Augusta four; four marvelous tournaments.”
Player won the Masters and The Open three times each. He also won the U.S. Open once and the PGA Championship twice.
Considering Player was the first international player to win the Masters (1961), it was his final major triumph ('78) and he is one of the tournament’s honorary starters, his comments might come as a surprise.
But he’s not alone in his thinking.
In fact, a fellow honorary starter and the guy with the most green jackets, also ranks the Masters No. 4 in terms of importance.
While being interviewed for his Golf Channel documentary, “Jack,” which aired in 2017, Jack Nicklaus said, “I have the U.S. Open as the No. 1 tournament.”
Nicklaus listed The Open at No. 2 (adding that his Open preference was because of nationality and that, “for the rest of the world, the British Open is probably the No. 1 tournament.”) The PGA was No. 3.
“The Masters falls fourth because it’s not meant to be ahead of those others,” the six-time champion said.
“The Masters Tournament is not a championship. You can’t rank a tournament ahead of championships.”
Player added in his recent interview, ““[The Masters is] the youngest of the majors. The others are steeped in tradition and history and they still have to catch up. Nothing comes to the top without time.”
The Masters began in 1934, the PGA in 1916, the U.S. Open in 1895 and The Open in 1860.
But while it’s last in terms of age, its presence on the calendar was of the utmost importance to Nicklaus.
“You know I made my whole [professional] life toward winning the Masters and winning the first major championship [each year],” he said.
“Most people would put the Masters No. 1 and that’s OK. I’d put the Masters No. 1 as far to play in and enjoy doing that kind of stuff. But as far as importance of the game, and being American, the U.S. Open is No. 1.”