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Cole the record-breaking benchwarmer

Steven Lynch April 30, 2012
Jack Nicklaus still heads the way in golfing majors © Getty Images

Which man - and which woman - have won the most golf majors? asked Hugh Martin

Still well clear at the top of the men's list is Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 majors - The Masters six times, five PGAs, four US Opens and three British Opens. In second place, with 14, is Tiger Woods: when he was riding high it seemed that Tiger had Nicklaus' record for the taking, but he hasn't won a major now since 2008. So far Woods has won The Masters and the PGA four times, and the US and British Opens three times each. Next comes Walter Hagen with 11 major victories between 1914 and 1929, then come Ben Hogan and Gary Player with nine. In the women's game, the most major victories is 15, by the American Patty Berg between 1937 and 1958. Two more Americans of roughly similar vintage, Mickey Wright and Louise Suggs, won 13 and 11 respectively, while Sweden's Annika Sorenstam retired recently with ten majors to her name, the same as the great allround sportswoman Mildred "Babe" Zaharias.

It looks as if Rangers will finish second in the Scottish Premier League despite their ten-point deduction. Has there ever been an SPL season when Rangers and Celtic did not finish first and second? asked Mick Cahill

Since the Scottish Premier League was established in 1998-99 the only two teams to win it have been Celtic and Rangers - neatly, seven times each now. But the first two places haven't always been an Old Firm lockout: in 2005-06 Hearts pipped Rangers to second place by a point, 17 behind Celtic. The last time the top division in Scotland was not won by Rangers or Celtic was back in 1979-80, when Aberdeen won what was then called the Premier Division. Overall Rangers have now won 54 titles and Celtic 43. Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian have won four, Dumbarton two (one shared with Rangers), and Dundee, Dundee United, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Third Lanark one each.

Has there ever been an ambidextrous tennis player - I mean one who switched the racket during points and played only forehands? asked Carl Harris

There have been very few prominent players who have done this: the most recent one I can think of is the Russian Evgenia Koulikovskaya, who won some middle-ranking women's tournaments between 1995 and 2002. Luke Jensen, the American doubles specialist who won the French Open with his brother Murphy in 1993, was able to serve equally powerfully with both hands, which earned him the nickname "Dual Hand Luke". But probably the most successful ambidextrous player was the American Beverly Baker (later Mrs Fleitz), who reached the Wimbledon final in 1955, losing to Louise Brough. Earlier that year she and Darlene Hard won the women's doubles title at Roland Garros. Baker-Fleitz reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 1956, too, before withdrawing from the tournament when she discovered she was pregnant.

How many horses have won both the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup? asked Jim Muirhead

Only two horses have ever done this. The great Golden Miller, which won five successive Gold Cups at Cheltenham between 1932 and 1936, also won the National at Aintree in 1934. (The following year Golden Miller started as 2-1 favourite - the shortest-priced favourite in National history - but unseated his rider at the 11th.) More recently L'Escargot, which won the Gold Cup in 1971 and 1972, won the National in 1975, ending Red Rum's hopes of an Aintree hat-trick. Tommy Carberry, who rode L'Escargot to victory, later trained the 1999 National winner Bobbyjo, which was ridden by his son Paul.

What's the record for substitute appearances for the England football team without ever starting a match? asked Martin Anderson

This record is held by the West Ham striker Carlton Cole, who has won seven England caps since his debut against Spain early in 2009. All of them have come as a substitute: he hasn't yet made the starting XI. The overall record for sub appearances for England is 29, by Jermain Defoe, but he has started a match on 17 further occasions.

Has anyone ever won the world heavyweight title on Boxing Day? asked Jeremy Northcott

One man has won the world heavyweight crown on this supremely appropriate day: the American Jack Johnson dethroned Canada's Tommy Burns on Boxing Day 1908, in Sydney. Johnson, the first black man to be recognised as champion, then held the title until 1915. Known as the "Galveston Giant", Johnson held a significant height and weight advantage over Burns, who was only about 5ft 7ins tall: their fight was stopped by the referee in the 14th round.

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