Since its inception in 1934, The Masters has had 86 editions of the famed tournament. Of these 86 Masters tournaments, only 55 golfers have ever worn the Green Jacket—an accomplishment that only the greatest golfers of all time can boast.
However, golf isn’t always a game for the inexperienced. The average age of a major championship winner—including The Masters itself—is just over 32 years of age. However, youthful exuberance has played somewhat of a role in the success of Masters winners for nearly 90 years.
So which golfer is the youngest winner of The Masters? Find out here.
The youngest golfer ever to win at Augusta National is Tiger Woods, who accomplished the feat at the 1997 Masters at the age of 21 years, 3 months, and 14 days old. It was just his third PGA Tour victory at the time and his first Masters title of five.
The 21-year-old phenom and youngest Masters winner also did so in spectacular fashion. He never flirted with the Masters cut as many young golfers do, and he dominated the final three rounds of the tournament.
Over the course of four days, Woods shot an 18-under-par 270 (70-66-65-69), winning by 12 strokes over veteran golfer Tom Kite. His 270 score was also a record at the time, which was eventually tied by Jordan Spieth in 2015 and eclipsed by Dustin Johnson in 2020 when he shot a 20-under-par 268—the current tournament record.
After the first round, Woods sat in fourth place with a -2, but after a 6-under-par 66 in round two, he leap-frogged his way to the top of the leaderboard. After a 65 in round three, his lead had jumped to nine strokes en route to a 66 in the final round. He finished with the final tally of 270—a full 12 strokes ahead of the competition, setting a record for the largest margin of victory in the world’s most competitive golf tournament.
Tiger Woods would again win the tournament in 2001 at 25 years, 3 months, 9 days old, making him the seventh-youngest golfer to win the tournament.
Winning the Masters Tournament as the youngest player of all time and doing so by 12 strokes is quite the achievement. But Woods accomplished more than just becoming the youngest Masters champion.
When Woods slid his arms into the famed Green Jacket, he became the first non-white player to do so. The victory also set the precedent for popularity in the sport, not only because Woods was just 21, but the swagger and manner in which he did so. At the time, the 1997 Master was the most-watched tournament in golf history, reaching an estimated 44 million viewers—or around 16% of the U.S. population.
Interestingly, Tiger also held off some of the best players in the game, including Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Justin Leonard, and Davis Love III.
When he started the tournament, he was ranked in the 30s. By June 1997, he had the #1 ranking in the world, which he held for a large portion of the year before he was overtaken by Greg Norman. At the end of the year, he was #2, remaining in the top 10 of the golf rankings from that point until 2011.
Perhaps the entire tournament can be summed up by Jim Nantz’s call when Woods sank his final putt: “There it is—a win for the ages.” To this day, these words still ring true at Augusta National Golf Club.
Although Tiger’s victory was indeed one for the ages, several other 20-something golfers can count themselves among the youngest to win The Masters.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect is that these tournaments never came down to playoff holes. Some were by a stroke or two while others were pure dominance. Regardless of whether they won by close affairs or commanding victories, these youthful golfers have a rightful place in the history of the illustrious tournament.
Matching Tiger Woods’ record of 18-under-par, Jordan Spieth won the 2015 Masters in a similarly dominant and surprising fashion—all while being only around five months older than Woods.
Spieth led wire to wire, jumping out to an 8-under-par 64 on the first day and never looking back. During the final round, co-runners-up Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson only got within three strokes of Spieth.
The total domination by Spieth was evident in the records he tied or set. The wire-to-wire victory was also the first since Raymond Floyd did it in 1976 and one of only five golfers to accomplish the feat. He also sank a birdie at 15 to go to -19—the first golfer in the history of the tournament to do so. A short 8-foot putt that forced Spieth to settle for bogey was the only reason he finished at -18.
Talk about one hell of a birthday gift. Turning 23 just one day before the start of the 1980 Masters, Spaniard Seve Ballesteros became the youngest Masters winner and held the record for an astonishing 17 years—all until Tiger smashed the record.
What made this victory one to remember wasn’t just Ballesteros’ age, it was the see-saw event in the final round.
Sitting at -16 after the front nine of the final round—a full 10 strokes ahead of the lead—Ballesteros hit a major snag after splashing shots in the drink. On two of the most famous holes in golf—#12 and #13 of the aptly-named Amen Corner—Ballesteros saw his lead go from 10 strokes to three strokes.
However, he showed poise beyond his years, sinking four putts for par and one for birdie en route to a four-stroke victory. When he put on the Green Jacket, he became the youngest non-U.S. player to achieve such an accomplishment.
Jack Nicklaus started his career off with a bang, becoming the youngest player to win the U.S. Open at the age of 22 in 1962. However, he tacked on another amazing feat by becoming the youngest winner of The Masters in 1963—a feat that stood for 17 years.
Nicklaus started out rough and wasn’t even on the leaderboard after the first round. But he turned it around, posting a -6 in round two to jump to second place and holding on for a one-stroke victory over Tony Lema.
Jack Nicklaus also won The Masters in 1965 at 25 years, two months, 21 days old, effectively making him the sixth-youngest golfer to win the tourney.
Here’s a cool tidbit: The Golden Bear holds the amazing record of being the then-youngest player to win The Masters when he won in 1963, as well as being the oldest player to win it at 46 years old in 1986.
The 1937 Masters is proof that the famed Amen Corner can make or break a golfer. While it almost sunk Ballesteros in 1980, Nelson used it to his advantage.
Trailing by four strokes going into the final round, Nelson hit a birdie on the 12th and an eagle on the 13th, gaining six strokes on the leader on his way to the Green Jacket.
Today, a plaque on Nelson’s Bridge (named after Byron) that crosses Rae’s Creek on the 13th hole commemorates this impressive achievement.
In a tournament plagued by constant rains and flooding, Gary Player won the 1961 Masters, holding off Arnold Palmer by a single stroke.
However, Player played a +4 on the final nine holes, thinking that he had lost the tournament. But on 18, Palmer hit a double-bogey, including a 15-foot putt that would have forced a playoff hole.
It was the first of three Masters championships by Player and the second major in his illustrious career.
In more recent memory, Scottie Scheffler became the ninth-youngest winner at Augusta National, accomplishing the feat at the 2022 Masters.
Scheffler had only won his first PGA Tour event just two months earlier at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but continued his remarkable run of play at Augusta. He led by five strokes after two rounds, tying the tournament record.
In the final round, Cameron Smith got within one stroke of the lead after the second hole, but Scheffler never wavered. He eventually held off a -8 effort from Rory McIlroy en route to the highest money total ever awarded at The Masters—$2.7 million.
Learning which golfer is the youngest winner of The Masters has probably piqued your interest in other young winners on the PGA Tour and the other grand slam tournaments. Here’s a quick glance at the other youngest winners in professional golf majors.
Once deemed an “old man’s sport,” golf continues to cater to a younger crowd each and every year. The sport may never see another Tiger Woods, but don’t be surprised if another young golfer comes along to challenge the record.