Which Golfer Has Scored the Most Birdies at the Masters?

Blurred Golfer PuttingThe Masters is a tournament that sees the biggest and best names in golf descend on Augusta National every year in order to take on one of the most difficult courses in the sport.

Players qualify to take part in the Masters via all sorts of routes but, given the fact that it is one of the most coveted tickets in the game, you can bet that when they get there they are going to be performing as well as possible in order to try to win one of the famous green jackets. You would think, therefore, that the scorecards of the golfers who take on the course are littered with birdies, but anyone who has played golf will tell you it doesn’t quite work like that.

Augusta is set up in a way that presents a real challenge to even the world’s best golfers, with the nature of the course changing between days, let alone from year to year. As a result, it isn’t really the case that there have been countless birdies scored there every time the golfers take to the course, although there have obviously been a fair few each year in order to work to separate the golfers according to their ability. Given the fact that the players play 72 holes over four days and the best ever score was the -20 that Dustin Johnson managed in 2020, you can see that birdies remain hard to come by.

Quick Answer: Which Player Has Scored the Most Birdies at the Masters?

Up to and including the Masters Tournament in 2023, the record for most birdies by a player in a single tournament is the 28 scored by American Jordan Spieth on his way to victory in 2015. In total, 24 players have scored 22 birdies or more in one tournament.

Six-time champion Jack Nicklaus has scored more Masters bridies than any other player with a total of 506 across 45 tournament spanning between 1959 and 2005.

The most birdies in a single round was the 11 scored by Anthony Kim on day two of the 2009 Masters. Kim finished tied for 20th position.

The Most Birdies by a Player in a Single Tournament

The first thing we’ll look at is the players that have managed to get 22 or more birdies across the entire tournament in a specific year:

Chart That Shows the Golfers with the Most Birdies in a Single Masters Tournament Between 1934 and 2023

You can see that there is actually more chance that you don’t win the Masters than you do when it comes to getting enough birdies in order to make the list. Nine players did go on and win it having achieved 22 or more birdies across the course of the a tournament, whilst 15 did not. The likes of Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd all appear on the list more than once, with Woods winning the tournament on both of the occasions that he managed at least 22 birdies.

It is worth bearing in mind that the average number of birdies that the winner of the Masters is 17, compared to 46 pars and nine bogeys. On average, the winner of the Masters will get one eagle, so it is the pars and the birdies where they really tend to make up the numbers and get a lead on their rivals. The average winning score to par is -8, with an average margin of victory of three shots over the next closest player. This is all averages, of course, so some players will do better than that and some worse, but it gives some context to how well the players have done to make it on to the table above.

Single Round Record

If you wanted to know what the record is for the number of birdies managed in one round then you’d have to go back to 2009, which was when Anthony Kim set the record with 11 birdies in his second round. It says something that Kim ended up tied for sixth at the end of the second day in spite of that incredible round, not even making it into the top ten, including ties, at the end of the final round. That year was eventually won by Angel Cabrera after a play-off against Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry thanks to the fact that all three of them ended up on -12.

Winning with a Birdie

Augusta National 18th Hole

The 18th hole at Augusta National is a 465 yard par 4 named ‘Holly’. Photo by Dan Perry, flickr

It is fair to say that winning the Masters takes an incredible level of skill and ability from the players, who are tasked with not only taking on the golf course but also the pressure that comes with trying to win the green jacket. As a result, anyone that has ever played golf can only imagine the feeling of trying to hole a birdie with their final putt in order to win the tournament over some of the best players in the game. Here is a look at those that did exactly that:

Final Hole Masters Winning Birdies

Year Winner Runner(s) Up
2004 Phil Mickelson (-9) Ernie Els (-8)
1998 Mark O’Meara (-9) Fred Couples, David Duval (-8)
1988 Sandy Lyle (-7) Mark Calcavecchia (-6)
1960 Arnold Palmer (-6) Ken Venturi (-5)

Phil Mickelson won the Masters in 2004 by a single shot, finishing on -9 over Ernie Els’ -8. In other words, that birdie on the 18th on the fourth day of the tournament literally won him the competition. The same is true of Sandy Lyle, finishing on -7, one shot ahead of Mark Calcavecchia who ended up on -6. Mark O’Meara needed to be even deadlier in 1998, finishing one shot ahead of Fred Couples and David Duval with his -9 to their -8, but only thanks to the fact that he birdied both the 17th and the 18th. Arnold Palmer had done the same thing in 1960, taking the win from Ken Venturi with a -6 to his -5.

We could also have included Art Wall, who did it in 1959 in order to end up with a -4 compared to Cary Middlecoff’s -3, or Gary Player in 1978. Player won the tournament for the third time in his career thanks to a -11, whilst three players in Rod Funseth, Hubert Green and Tom Watson all ended up on -10. The difference is that they got their birdies on the 72nd hole and won the Masters, as opposed to getting a birdie with their final putt to win it.

Most Career Birdies – Jack Nicklaus (506)

If you want to know who has had the best career at the Masters in terms of birdies then there is only one name to tell you about: Jack Nicklaus. Known as the ‘Golden Bear’, Nicklaus is considered to be one of the greatest golfers of all time and his experience at the Masters helps to explain why. He won the tournament for the first time in 1963, ending up with a -2 compared to Tony Lemu’s -1.

Two years later and he won it again, defending his title in 1966 with scores of -17 in 1965 and then winning a play-off against Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer a year later. It took him six years before he won it again, finishing up on -2 whilst everyone else was over par.

In 1975 he was at it again, winning with a -12 in comparison to the -11 managed by both Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf. He was 35 at the time, with many believing that that would be the last time that he’d get his hand on the green jacket. Nicklaus, however, had other ideas and in 1986 he returned to win the Masters for a record sixth time, also setting the record for the most Majors won by a professional golfer with 18. He finished up with a -9, whilst both Tom Kite and Greg Norman ended their rounds with -8.

By the time that he retired, Jack Nicklaus had notched up an incredible 506 birdies during his time taking part in the Masters at Augusta National.

The 2023 Masters Tournament

If you want to get a sense of how well or otherwise players are liable to do when it comes to scoring birdies at the Masters, it is worth having a look at how the field did during a specific year. For that purpose, we’ve taken a look at 2023 and can tell you how each player did during each round of the competition, as well as the total number of birdies that they scored. You will see the moment at which players failed to make the cut, given that none of them appeared to scored any birdies on the third or fourth day of the tournament.

Whilst there isn’t an exact correlation between the number of birdies and finishing position, it’s fair to say that you can’t be in the mix for the green jacket if you don’t post a considerable number of birdies across the four rounds. Champion in 2023 was Spaniard Jon Rahm, who scored 19 birdies, the joint second highest that year. Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth both had 21 birdies, finishing second and tied for fourth respectively.

The full birdie table for 2023, split by round, can be found below:

Birdies Scored by Each Player at the 2023 Masters

Player R1 R2 R3 R4 Total Final Position
Phil Mickelson 6 5 2 8 21 T2nd
Jordan Spieth 7 3 2 9 21 T4th
Jon Rahm 7 5 3 4 19 Winner
Patrick Reed 4 4 3 8 19 T4th
Cameron Young 7 4 4 4 19 T7th
Joaquin Niemann 5 7 3 4 19 T16th
Sahith Theegala 3 5 3 7 18 9th
Patrick Cantlay 4 4 6 3 17 T14th
Kyoung-Hoon Lee 2 7 4 4 17 T23rd
Brooks Koepka 8 3 2 3 16 T2nd
Sungjae Im 3 3 6 4 16 T16th
Sam Burns 4 4 3 4 15 T29th
Mackenzie Hughes 1 5 5 4 15 T29th
Taylor Moore 3 5 4 3 15 T39th
Xander Schauffele 6 2 4 3 15 T10th
Seamus Power 3 3 5 4 15 T46th
Billy Horschel 4 4 3 3 14 52nd
Scott Stallings 3 2 5 4 14 T26th
Ryan Fox 4 3 3 4 14 T26th
Thomas Pieters 4 4 5 1 14 T48th
Dustin Johnson 3 4 4 3 14 T48th
Viktor Hovland 5 1 6 2 14 T7th
Collin Morikawa 4 4 2 4 14 T10th
Russell Henley 4 5 2 3 14 T4th
Matt Fitzpatrick 4 2 4 4 14 T10th
Keegan Bradley 4 3 2 5 14 T23rd
Gary Woodland 6 3 1 4 14 T14th
Justin Rose 4 3 3 4 14 T16th
Jason Day 5 5 2 2 14 T39th
Shane Lowry 5 2 2 4 13 T16th
Sepp Straka 6 5 1 1 13 T46th
Hideki Matsuyama 2 4 5 2 13 T16th
Talor Gooch 1 5 3 4 13 T34th
Scottie Scheffler 3 1 4 5 13 T10th
Chris Kirk 5 2 3 3 13 T23rd
Si Woo Kim 2 4 5 2 13 T29th
Cameron Smith 4 3 2 3 12 T34th
Abraham Ancer 3 4 3 2 12 T39th
Tony Finau 5 3 3 1 12 T26th
Max Homa 2 4 4 2 12 T43rd
Tyrrell Hatton 2 3 4 2 11 T34th
Fred Couples 4 2 2 3 11 T50th
Tommy Fleetwood 1 4 2 4 11 33rd
Tom Kim 2 4 0 4 10 T16th
Keith Mitchell 3 3 2 2 10 53rd
Mito Pereira 3 4 0 3 10 T43rd
Harold Varner III 2 3 2 3 10 T29th
Zach Johnson 2 4 2 1 9 T34th
Adam Scott 3 1 2 3 9 T39th
Sam Bennett (A) 2 5 1 1 9 T16th
Harris English 4 3 1 1 9 T43rd
J.T. Poston 2 3 0 4 9 T34th
Gordon Sargent (A) 4 4 N/A N/A 8 Cut
Adrian Meronk 6 2 N/A N/A 8 Cut
Charl Schwartzel 2 2 3 1 8 T50th
Tom Hoge 3 4 N/A N/A 7 Cut
Rory McIlroy 5 2 N/A N/A 7 Cut
Corey Conners 4 3 N/A N/A 7 Cut
Cameron Champ 3 3 N/A N/A 6 Cut
Matthew McClean (A) 3 3 N/A N/A 6 Cut
Justin Thomas 4 2 N/A N/A 6 Cut
Aldrich Potgieter (A) 3 3 N/A N/A 6 Cut
Brian Harman 3 3 N/A N/A 6 Cut
Bubba Watson 4 2 N/A N/A 6 Cut
Vijay Singh 1 4 N/A N/A 5 Cut
Tiger Woods 3 2 N/A N/A 5 Cut
Adam Svensson 4 1 N/A N/A 5 Cut
Alex Noren 1 4 N/A N/A 5 Cut
Kazuki Higa 2 3 N/A N/A 5 Cut
Min Woo Lee 3 1 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Mike Weir 3 1 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira (A) 2 2 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Francesco Molinari 3 1 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Louis Oosthuizen 1 3 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Sergio Garcia 2 2 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Jason Kokrak 2 2 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Bryson DeChambeau 0 4 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Kevin Kisner 4 0 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Larry Mize 1 3 N/A N/A 4 Cut
Kurt Kitayama 3 0 N/A N/A 3 Cut
Danny Willett 1 2 N/A N/A 3 Cut
Jose Maria Olazabal 1 2 N/A N/A 3 Cut
Bernhard Langer 0 2 N/A N/A 2 Cut
Ben Carr (A) 2 0 N/A N/A 2 Cut
Harrison Crowe (A) 2 0 N/A N/A 2 Cut
Sandy Lyle 0 1 N/A N/A 1 Cut