Man who fought a Bear and won

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:08 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 JACK NICKLAUS

#2 BOBBY JONES

#3 BEN HOGAN

#4 BYRON NELSON

#5 WALTER HAGEN

#6 TIGER WOODS

#7 NICK FALDO

#8 TOM WATSON

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NO. 8

TOM WATSON

BORN -- Sept. 4, 1949, in Kansas City, Mo.

MAJORS -- Masters (1977, 81); British Open (1975, 77, 80, 82, 83); U.S. Open (1982).

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Tom Watson won eight majors, including five British Opens, but his famous duels with Jack Nicklaus defined his career and cemented his status among the top-10 golfers of all time.

His 1977 Masters and British Open victories, along with his

1982 U.S. Open win, were each earned in a head-to-head battle with Nicklaus.

Watson was one of only a handful of players to challenge Nicklaus during the Golden Bear's two-decade reign as the world's top golfer.

Watson and Nicklaus were paired in the final two rounds of the 1977 Open at Turnberry, with Watson edging Nicklaus by one stroke in the last 36 holes.

That's why he makes Stephen Ames's list.

"He's one of Nicklaus's rivals and he won his majors when Nicklaus was still dominant," Ames points out.

"He battled it out and he was phenomenal. Five British Opens.

"He had to have more imagination in his game playing over there in the British, inventing shots. He always played well that way."

Ames is particularly impressed with Watson's British Open record, noting success on the links courses demands not only precision but a creativeness unlike any other major.

Watson also exudes a reverence for the game, making British Open fans particularly fond of the Kansas native.

That's also what makes the British Open Ames's favourite event.

"Love it," Ames says.

"That's what makes it fun -- the variety of different shots it demands.

"It's not like American golf or golf in the western half of the world on golf courses that look so nice on TV.

"The British Open, along with the U.S. Open, are also the toughest majors to win because of a true open field."

Watson was named PGA player of the year six times while

also posting an exemplary Ryder Cup record of 10-4-1.


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