Ames names the best ever

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

It's an argument that can't be won or lost but is hashed over daily in clubhouses around the world: Who are the 10 best golfers of all time?

Obviously, there's no definitive answer yet a handful of fairway legends belong on any knowledgeable golfer's list.

Sun sports writer Dan Toth asked Calgary's Stephen Ames, who has played professionally around the world, to offer up his all-time greats.

The native of Trinidad and Tobago, who gained his Canadian citizenship a year ago, has been fortunate enough to tee it up with a couple of the golf gods who earned a place on his honour roll.

Who Ames selected -- and why -- will be revealed in this special 10-part series.

In no particular order, here are the golfers Ames most admires:

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#1 NICKLAUS

#2 JONES

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BOBBY JONES

BORN -- March 17, 1902, in Atlanta, Ga.

DIED -- Dec. 18, 1971.

MAJORS -- U.S. Open (1923, 26, 29, 30); British Open (1926, 27, 30)

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He's been brought back to life in those charming black- and-white newsreels rolled out with regularity on The Golf Channel, introducing another generation to the legend of Bobby Jones.

Stephen Ames has also been brought up to speed on the man who built Augusta National, home of the Masters.

Jones's other legacy was building his legend by winning golf's Grand Slam in 1930.

At the time, it consisted of the U.S. Open, British Open, British Amateur and U.S. Amateur.

He won nine majors, including four U.S. Opens.

After claiming the Slam, he retired from competitive golf at the age of 28.

"By the time he was 12 or 13, he was beating grown men," points out Ames, who recently read the Jones biography The Grand Slam. "That's why he'd won so many majors by the time he was 28.

"He was a hell of a player and had a lot of determination and self drive.

"It's also what makes a true champion today."

Jones won 13 majors, a record that stood for 40 years until it was eclipsed by Jack Nicklaus.

Jones also helped found The Masters tournament, held annually at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

Ames has extra motivation to learn about Jones after earning an invitation the the Masters, regarded by many as the most prestigious event in golf.

"What makes him a great player also is what he went though to win what he did and what it took out of him physically," Ames explains.

"He lost like 10 or 11 pounds every week he played because of the nerves he was battling all of the time.

"That's a product of playing competitive golf but more competing against himself every time he played."

Ames notes Jones's success in the 1920s and '30s came using hickory-shafted clubs, vastly inferior to the equipment used today.

Sports writing legend Grantland Rice, who became a close friend of Jones, wrote in 1940: "Bobby was a short, rotund kid with the face of an angel and the temper of a timber wolf."

After numerous failures to live up to his immense potential, Jones broke through by winning the 1923 U.S. Open in New York.

His trademarks became consistent driving and an uncanny ability to hole putts from almost anywhere with his putter he fondly called "Calamity Jane."

Late in life, Jones was confined to a wheelchair because of syringomyelia, a disease that caused him to lose the feeling in his legs.

In his final years, Jones could often be seen watching the Masters from a golf cart.

He died in 1971 at age 69.

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WHO'S NO. 3 ON STEPHEN'S LIST?

FIND OUT TOMORROW IN THE SUN BUT HERE'S A HINT:

A SERIOUS CAR CRASH COULDN'T KEEP HIM DOWN


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