Category: World Golf Hall of Fame


October 07, 2013

World Golf Hall of Fame cancels 2014 induction ceremony

Posted at 5:22 PM by Josh Sens
Fred Couples

Scrap the acceptance speeches and call off the engraver. There will be no Hall of Fame inductees in 2014.

Citing the need for a "comprehensive review" of its selection process, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced today that it was cancelling its 2014 induction ceremony. In a prepared statement, Hall of Fame officials said that they have launched "an evaluation of the criteria and process for electing/selecting all five avenues of induction and a review of the production of the annual Induction Ceremony."

Because that process "takes several months and includes the coordination of the game's professional tours, governing bodies and allied organizations," the statement said, Hall officials thought it best to forgo the 2014 ceremony.

The 2015 ceremony will continue as planned, on May 4, 2015, the statement said.

Under the Hall of Fame's current guidelines, a PGA Tour player must be at least 40 years old and have 10 years of Tour membership under his belt to be eligible for induction. He must also have one of the following: 10 Tour wins; two major titles; or two Players Championship wins. Election requires 65 percent of ballots cast by a panel of golf journalists, historians and golf dignitaries. If no nominee receives 65 percent of the vote, the candidate receiving the most votes over 50 percent is elected.

Earlier this year, the Hall of Fame took heat for what some critics described as the relative weakness of its 2013 class, which included Fred Couples (above) and Colin Montgomerie. Raymond Floyd, a four-time major winner and Hall of Fame member since 1989, was among those who complained. "The bar has been lowered," Floyd told Golf Magazine in March. "Guys get voted into the Hall of Fame who don't belong, who lack the numbers. I'm very upset at the Hall of Fame for that. It's not fair to the people who went in early."

Floyd didn't name names. But perhaps he didn't have to.

"Just look at the inductees over the last six, eight, 10 years. Some years, I don't even vote because the names are not worthy of induction. One major should not get you into the Hall of Fame---maybe one major and 40 wins. I'm not gonna pick a guy with one major and 11 wins."

Montgomerie has never won a major. Couples has one major at 15 Tour wins.

According to Hall of Fame spokesperson Travis Hill, it's too early to tell which, if any, of the Hall's current eligibility requirements will change.

"(This review) is not a reaction to any one thing," Hill said. "It is simply a response to a lot of different questions that have bubbled up." Hill added that the Hall of Fame would announce any changes to its criteria in early 2014, when the review process is expected to be completed.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

May 02, 2013

Ken Venturi to miss Hall of Fame ceremony due to illness

Posted at 1:47 AM by Mike Walker

Ken_300Ken Venturi, 81, will not be able to attend his own induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame next week due to illness, according to Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Venturi recently developed a series of infections in his back, requiring surgery. His prognosis is good, according to his son Matt, but Ken Venturi’s recovery will prevent him from making the cross-country trip for Monday’s ceremony. He lives outside Palm Springs.

“We’re obviously disappointed, but we’re happy the prognosis is good,” Hall of Fame spokesman Travis Hill said. “It’s a shame Ken can’t make it. He was really thrilled about this.”

The Hall originally planned for Venturi’s longtime television partner, Jim Nantz, to accept the honor on his behalf. Nantz asked Matt Venturi and his brother, Tim, to stand in for their father.

Venturi won 14 PGA Tour events, including the 1964 U.S. Open. After retiring from professional golf in 1967 due to carpal tunnel syndrome, Venturi was a broadcaster for CBS Sports for 35 years.

Photo: Ken Venturi at the 2009 Presidents Cup in his hometown of San Francisco (Getty Images).

December 18, 2012

Colin Montgomerie elected to World Golf Hall of Fame

Posted at 9:29 AM by Golf.com

P1-MontyColin Montgomerie, who dominated the European Tour in the 1990's and was one of the most successful Ryder Cup players of all time, has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. He will be inducted with Fred Couples, Willie Park Jr., Ken Venturi and Ken Schofield on May 6, 2013.

Despite all of his success, Monty, as he was known to fans around the world, never managed to win a major championship. He finished second three times at the U.S. Open, once at the British Open and once at the PGA Championship. The full announcement from the Hall of Fame is below:

Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield share, as player and administrator respectively, a special affinity with both The European Tour and The Ryder Cup and they will be honored for their contribution to the game next year when they are inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum.

Montgomerie – elected through the International Ballot – and Schofield – selected through the Lifetime Achievement Category – will be honored along with fellow 2013 inductees Fred Couples, Willie Park Jr. and Ken Venturi at the Induction Ceremony on May 6, 2013, at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. The Ceremony will once again kick off THE PLAYERS Championship week.

George O’Grady, The European Tour Chief Executive, and Jack Peter, the Hall of Fame Chief Operating Officer, made the official announcement at a press conference attended by both Montgomerie and Schofield prior to The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Luncheon in London.

“This is a very special day for golf and for The European Tour,” O’Grady said. “Colin and Ken are unique individuals and their contribution to not only The European Tour, on and off the fairways, but also The Ryder Cup makes them both very worthy candidates for the World Golf Hall of Fame.

“Colin’s achievement in winning the Harry Vardon Trophy eight times, including seven in a row, took considerable talent, skill, imagination, endurance, physical strength and mental resilience. Any aspiring and ambitious golfer on The European Tour today craves the opportunity to win The Race to Dubai, which has succeeded the Order of Merit, just once – to  do it eight times is universally viewed as a superhuman feat.

“Colin became European Number One for the eighth time in 2005 which, coincidentally, was the year I succeeded Ken. Unquestionably, Ken’s contribution to The European Tour is incalculable. His vision, passion and reservoir of knowledge established the foundations that we enjoy today and, like Colin, he has enthusiastically supported and taken enormous joy from Europe’s recent triumphs in The Ryder Cup.”

The accomplishments of both Montgomerie and Schofield have been recognized around the world.

"Ken and Colin are truly worthy of induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “These two men played huge roles in golf's international development in the late 20th century. Ken provided more opportunities for top players to compete around the world, while Colin took advantage of these opportunities and set an unmatched standard of prolonged excellence on The European Tour."

“Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield are outstanding ambassadors of the game,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Each has made vital contributions to golf’s global expansion. Colin’s achievements on The European Tour and the Ryder Cup have gained him fans worldwide, while Ken’s tireless work during his time at The European Tour created new innovations and tremendous international growth. Congratulations to both Colin and Ken on this well-deserved honor.”

Montgomerie dominated The European Tour in the 1990s, finishing Number One seven times in succession from 1993 and then capturing another Harry Vardon Trophy in 2005. The Scot turned professional in 1987, following his second Walker Cup appearance, and won 31 European Tour titles – a record by a British player – including three successive PGA Championships at Wentworth Club and, in total, 40 tournaments worldwide.

In eight successive Ryder Cup appearances from 1991, Montgomerie created a remarkable record of being unbeaten in the singles with a 6-0-2 mark, in addition to winning 9 1/2 points from 14 foursomes and 7 points from 14 fourballs.  He then went on to captain the European Team, which regained The Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales, in 2010.

Montgomerie, who received the MBE in 1998 and then the OBE in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List, will be eligible to compete on the European Senior Tour when he celebrates his 50th birthday on June 23 next year.

“It is a wonderful surprise to hear that I will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next year,” Montgomerie said. “I know I am very fortunate to have enjoyed such a successful career playing the game I love and it makes me feel very proud that my achievements have been recognized in this way. While my eight Order of Merit wins were very special, as everyone knows my Ryder Cup experiences have provided the very best moments in my career and receiving this great honor is the icing on the cake. I am delighted that my dear friend Ken Schofield’s notable contribution to European golf will also be recognized at next year’s Ceremony and I look forward to sharing this special occasion with him.”

Schofield became First Secretary and Executive Director of The European Tour on Jan. 1, 1975, succeeding John Jacobs. When he took the helm, The European Tour comprised 17 official events with an official prize fund of €599,084. When he retired at the end of 2004, there were 45 official events with official prize money of £106,010,654, in addition to 29 European Challenge Tour events and 21 European Senior Tour events. Schofield initiated global expansion for the game when he took The European Tour outside of the European continent for the first time in 1982 with the playing of the Tunisian Open. That began a structure whereby the Tour positioned itself internationally – co-sanctioned tournaments with other Tours now total 164 since the inaugural one in South Africa in 1995 – with more opportunity and incentive for the players in first the major championships then the World Golf Championships.

Since his retirement Schofield, born and raised in Perthshire, Scotland, where he became, at 23, Scotland’s youngest bank manager, has become an integral part of The Golf Channel’s broadcast team at The Ryder Cup and major championships. He also served for five years as President of The Golf Foundation, of which a founding member was Hall of Fame member Sir Henry Cotton, prior to being succeeded by Montgomerie. He is also on the board of several companies and organizations and was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1996.

“I am delighted not just for myself but also for The European Tour,” Schofield said. “This is an honor for absolutely everyone who in the last 40 years helped the Tour become what it is today. For me it is quite unexpected and I am both delighted and humbled that I should be given a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum in the company of so many great names who have together contributed to making the game of golf so special in our lives.”

With the new Class set, the Hall of Fame will now focus on the Induction Ceremony on May 6, 2013.

“Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield will be excellent additions to the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum,” Peter said. “The Class of 2013 is a wonderful snapshot of the rich, international history of the game. We look forward to celebrating all of the achievements of this distinguished group at the 2013 Induction Ceremony.”

(Photos: David Cannon / Getty Images)

September 19, 2012

Fred Couples elected to World Golf Hall of Fame

Posted at 3:17 PM by Golf.com

FreddieFred Couples is heading to the Hall of Fame. One of the most popular players in the history of the PGA Tour, Couples has won 15 PGA Tour titles, including the 1992 Masters. He has also won eight titles on the Champions Tour. He played on five Ryder Cup and five Presidents Cup teams. Next year he will serve as captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team for the third time.

(Related Photos: Fred Couples Career in Pictures)

"I am honored by my selection to the World Golf Hall of Fame," Couples said. "It is humbling to have received the votes and to be included in a group of such legendary players."

Couples, 52, received 51 percent of the vote from the selection committee, one percent more than the 50-percent threshold for induction. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced the news in a press conference on Wednesday at East Lake Country Club, site of this week's Tour Championship.

"Fred Couples is one of those unique players whose talent and accomplishments are Hall-of-Fame caliber, as are his personality and popularity," said Finchem. "He has been a fan favorite for decades, thanks to not only his significant achievements on the golf course, but also because of his relatable, friendly demeanor that has connected him to fans around the world. Congratulations to Fred on this incredible honor."

Couples will be inducted in May of 2013 during the week of the Players Championship.

(Photo: Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

June 26, 2012

Truth & Rumors: David Duval and Padraig Harrington added to Hall of Fame Ballot

Posted at 12:58 PM by Mark Dee

The World Golf Hall of Fame is digging deep to fill out this year’s ballot. According to PGATour.com, the St. Augustine shrine has added a trio of very active golfers to this years ballot:

New to the PGA TOUR ballot are David Duval and Steve Stricker while Padraig Harrington has been added to the International ballot.

The ballots have been delivered to their respective voting bodies, comprised of Hall of Fame members, golf journalists, historians and dignitaries from around the globe. The voting window closes on July 27 and an announcement for the Class of 2013 will be made later this year.

Mickelson Close to Padres Purchase
Phil Mickelson's bid to be a partial owner of his hometown San Diego Padres is getting very serious, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. As Miller reports, Mickelson's consortium, which includes area businessman Ron Fowler, and the O'Malley family (who famously moved the Dodgers out west in the 50s) have entered into an "exclusive negotiating window" with Padres owner John Moores:

The final sale price is expected to be in the neighborhood of $800 million, though that includes $200 million of up-front television money from a new local contract the Padres signed with start-up channel Fox Sports San Diego that is worth $1.2 billion over 20 years. Moores figures to exit with that $200 million as part of the sale price.

Mickelson was born in San Diego and grew up in the city through high school. He still lives in the area, making his home in Rancho Santa Fe, in San Diego County.

Djoking Around
Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, looked like he was aiming for total country club dominance Monday during his first round match on the grass courts of Wimbledon. Djokovic pulled out an iron from his tennis bag before taking the court to beat Juan Carlos Ferraro, according to the AP.

As something of an inside joke with a sponsor, Djokovic pulled a kid's golf club out of his racket bag and put it on the sideline when he arrived to face 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero at the grass-court Grand Slam's main stadium. Then, after a bit of a slow and nervous beginning that included an early break, Djokovic righted himself and beat Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round at the All England Club.

"It was a little funny thing," said Djokovic, whose racket maker gave him a bag that has posts to make it stand like a golf bag. "Being creative, that's all. But fans corrected me right away. They said, 'This is not a golf course.' I said, 'OK.'"

Well, it’s not primarily a golf course. But I’ve often dreamed of popping a wedge off the grass at All England’s Centre Court. In the first round, at least. By the end of the fortnight, the courts look like greens only Mike Davis could love.

Here’s a quick video of Djok’s joke, via YouTube.

According to Emily Kay at SB Nation, the faithful were not amused. Perhaps golf’s No. 1 Luke Donald will even the score with one of those stringed-flyswatters at Royal Lytham next month. At this point, he’d try just about anything to win a major.

Irish Sells Out
How excited is Northern Ireland to get this week’s Irish Open? Pumped to capacity, according to the UKPA:

This week's Irish Open at Royal Portrush will be the first sell-out the European Tour has ever had for a regular event.

It is the first time the tournament has been held in Northern Ireland since 1953 and local heroes Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell are all taking part along with USPGA champion Keegan Bradley and three-major winner Padraig Harrington.

"We are preparing for a crowd around the 100,000 mark for the week," championship director Antonia Beggs said.

Bravo. And the way Northern Irish golfers have played the past couple years, there are plenty of reasons for excitement. And if one of their own takes home the trophy? Well, I don’t know what might happen, but I suspect I’d like to be there to find out.

Tweet of the Day: Oh, the Emerald Isle...

September 12, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Mickelson leads Golf Hall of Fame ballot

Posted at 3:38 PM by Mike Walker

Phil Mickelson is the biggest of the new names on the ballot for the World Golf Hall of Fame’s class of 2012.

What, you say, “Phil Mickelson can’t be in the hall of fame because he is still an active player and one of the best in the world”? According to World Golf Hall of Fame guidelines, the requirements for entry are that a player is at least 40 years old, has been a member of the PGA Tour for 10 years and had two wins in the majors or Players Championship. “The Players Championship?!?!,” you say. We know, we know.

Champions Tour members are eligible if they have been a member of the Champions Tour for five years and have 20 wins between the PGA and Champions Tours or five wins in the majors (regular or senior tour) or the Players Championship. That’s how Loren Roberts got on the ballot this year.

Here’s the full story from PGATour.com:

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum released the PGA TOUR and International ballots for its Class of 2012 today. Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Loren Roberts are the newest players added to the PGA TOUR Ballot and Miguel Angel Jimenez is the latest addition to the International Ballot, all four having met the qualifying criteria by the Jan. 1, 2011 deadline.

The ballots have been delivered to their respective voting bodies, comprised of Hall of Fame members, golf journalists, historians and dignitaries from around the globe. The voting window closes in October and an announcement for the Class of 2012 will be made later this year.

English golfer still hits the links at age 100

Sorry, Tom Watson, but we’ve found a new hero: Bill Light of England, who just celebrated his 100th birthday with a round of golf. The Daily Mail (UK) has the details

But despite his years Bill, who reckons he has played on at least 100 courses around the country, has a respectable handicap of 24.

On his birthday he took part in a tournament with grandson Mark at his local course - and won, without missing a putt.

Light doesn’t bomb it like he used to, but he can still get around the course, according to the Mail.

He can drive the ball about 120 yards - 150 yards less than his best when he was in his prime - but his short game is still in good order.

The retired builder has been married to wife Mabel, 95, for 72 years and they have three children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Bill added: 'My friend Ted West drives me there twice a week and it is a nine-hole course and I play as many holes as I can - my back gives me a bit of trouble nowadays.

'But for my birthday on Sunday I played with my grandson Mark in a competition and we won it - I putted everything in sight.”

The secret to his longevity: a glass of red wine and a little whisky every day, of course.

Davis Love has ‘no doubt’ Tiger will make next year’s Ryder Cup team

Gary Smits of The Florida Times-Union asks next year’s American Ryder Cup team captain Davis Love the key questions: Will Tiger get a captain’s pick next year if he needs one and should he be on this year’s Presidents Cup team?

What about Woods? If he needs to make the team next year as a captain's pick, what does he need to show you?

That he playing a full schedule. I played with him at the PGA, and it just looks like he needs to play some tournaments. I don't think it's anything more than that. If he plays a little more, he'll be fine. I don't have any doubt that if he plays a full schedule, he will make the team.

Did you agree with Fred Couples picking him for the Presidents Cup? Would you have done the same thing?

I don't know if I would have picked him before the date [the day after the Tour Championship Sept. 26, when Presidents Cup captain's picks are announced] but I would have picked him. It would be hard not to pick him because you'd be under so much scrutiny because you didn't.

Stray Shots: Things we saw while wondering if we could get Tim Finchem to represent us in our next salary review….

The King of Swaziland wants his people to play golf. That's our kind of king. (Via The Swazi Observer)

EA Sports is offering refunds to gamers disappointed with the PC version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12. (Via The Escapist)

The King has no trouble shooting his age at 82. Happy birthday, Arnold Palmer. (Via The Orlando Sentinel

Tweet of the Day

Rory_tweet

January 06, 2011

World Golf Hall of Fame debuts new exhibit on Nancy Lopez

Posted at 5:45 PM by Golf.com

LPGA legend Nancy Lopez won 48 times in her career, and now visitors to the World Golf Hall of Fame can get an up-close look at more than 150 pieces of memorabilia from her career in a new exhibit, "Nancy Lopez: Pride, Passion & Personality."

The exhibit is already on display, but Lopez will be at the World Golf Hall of Fame on Jan. 15 to tour her exhibit and take part in a speaking program. Tickets to the speaking program are $25 and can be reserved in advance at worldgolfhalloffame.org.

Golf.com went to Lopez's house in early December when the World Golf Hall of Fame curators came to collect her items. In the video below, Lopez reflects on her career, while the Hall's Mark Cubbedge explains why they chose to honor Lopez with her own exhibit.

June 09, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Tiger's appearance fee, Goosen's HOF chances and sweet tweets

Posted at 11:27 AM by Steve Beslow

Pay the man
Tiger Woods is set to defend his title at the Australian Masters, the last tournament he won before his scandal hit the public eye last year. It won't surprise you to hear that getting Tiger to the outback requires paying him an enormous appearance fee. What might surprise you is who ends up footing that bill (from Thomas Hunter at The Sydney Morning Herald).

Tiger Woods is coming back to Melbourne for this year’s Australian Masters but Victorian taxpayers, who are covering part of his appearance fee, will never know how much they’re paying for the privilege, says Victorian Tourism Minister Tim Holding. Mr Holding said revealing the figure would give interstate governments and other locations the chance to match or exceed the bid and lure the star from Victoria. "[Tiger's fee] won’t be made public," he told Radio 3AW. ‘‘We work very hard to secure these events and we don’t want to bid the price up by disclosing the exact amounts.’’ It is understood Woods commands a $3 million appearance fee. It was widely reported the Victorian government paid $1.5 million of the golfer’s fee last year, despite Mr Holding saying today the exact amount would not be made public. The tournament prize money last year was $270,000.

If this sounds like the height of absurdity, it's possible that Tiger's appearance fee is a better investment than it sounds:

He said the expense was ‘‘infinitesimal’’ compared to the economic benefit which flowed the Woods’ appearance, with audited figures showing his performance at last year’s Australian Masters earned the state $34 million, exceeding forecasts by more $15 million.

I'm no golf purist, but I find the idea of appearance fees to be about the most ridiculous premise of all time. While golf can be fun to watch, I like to think of professional golfers as athletes, not entertainers (with a few notable exceptions). I'd rather see the money that goes to appearance fees actually show up in the purse, so that it needs to be earned with a win (or at least a solid showing) rather than with a wave of the cap.

Ballot Buster
Ernie Els and Retief Goosen are the newest qualifiers on the World Golf Hall of Fame ballot, and it's no surprise that the talk around the golf writers' water cooler today is about the worthiness of the new candidates. As with any subjective vote, the biggest question is whether to focus on your gut or your stat sheet. Jim Brighters from TSN has chosen the former:

...When I look at the ballot, a name jumps at me, and that should be enough. I know enough about the careers to know basic win totals and major championships. The resume is there already, and if I'm not familiar with it, then I haven't been doing my job and am not qualified to vote.

With that being said, Els is a Hall of Famer, no doubt. He won two U.S. Opens in a relatively short period of time and fairly early in his career. Els won the third major and a different one, the 2002 British Open Championship. 

Els has been an elite golfer for the better part of 15 years. He was No. 1 in the world for a period of time, and perhaps more importantly, there was a good chunk of time where he was the clear No. 2 to Tiger Woods.

Mark my words, that will be just as important as being No. 1.

That's the difference between Els and Goosen. Truthfully, not being the second-best player isn't a benchmark as to whether you get in the Hall of Fame. Goosen was a great player for the middle part of the 2000s and that's admirable.

He doesn't have the longevity of Els. When the two were in their primes, Els was a world-class player who could be the best. Was Goosen? Hard to say he wasn't since he won two U.S. Opens, and truthfully, two of the hardest U.S. Opens any eyes have witnessed.

But Goosen never struck me as someone who should be favored in every major he teed it up in. Again, no formula for me, but my gut says no for Goosen.

I should start by saying that I agree with every point Brighters makes here about Els. He was dominant before Tiger, and he was as competitive as any human being could be after Tiger, which is about all we can ask. 

That being said, I think Brighters is far too hard on Retief Goosen. Yes, Goosen's PGA Tour win totals aren't as gaudy as some other players', but it's the World Golf Hall of Fame, not the PGA Tour Hall of Fame. Goose has won 9 times on the Sunshine Tour, 4 times on the Asian Tour and 14 times (tied for 15th all time) on the European Tour, earning the Euro Order of Merit twice. Those wins make his steady play on the PGA Tour all the more impressive, and his two U.S. Open wins are more than enough to put him over the top of HOF qualifications in my opinion. I will credit Brighters for one more thing, he's consistent: if I had to compare Goosen to another Hall of Famer, I'd probably pick 2004 inductee Tom Kite...who Brighters doesn't think belongs either.

Sweet Tweets
In what I hope will become consistent fodder for the Truth and Rumors blog, PGA Tour golfers have been seriously upping their Twitter game lately. While Stewart Cink is still my personal favorite, he actually made the most waves this week not as a Tweeter, but as a Tweetie (that's a word, right?). Zach Johnson Tweeted this now famous photo of Cink in a compromising position a couple days ago, and it's become an internet sensation. In lieu of yet another "ball" pun, I think Wilbon and Kornheiser summed up the situation perfectly on PTI last night: "The swing thought here is definitely 'thin it to win it'...you don't want to hit it fat."

In less dangerous Twitter news, Bubba Watson made sure to share his first ever hole-in-one during a US Open qualifier this week with all of his fans and followers. It's not news in and of itself, but it's pretty hilarious how excited the oft-exuberant Watson is about his ace. When you've only got 140 characters to work with and you spend 11 of them on exclamation points, you know you're pretty fired up. Who knows what might happen if he actually wins a tournament this year.

November 02, 2009

World Golf Hall of Fame's night to remember

Posted at 10:31 PM by Gary Van Sickle

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.—The moon was full, the sky was clear and the night was full of emotion as the World Golf Hall of Fame inducted four new members Monday night.

Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, Ryder Cup legend Christy O’Connor Sr. of Ireland, PGA champion Lanny Wadkins and former President Dwight Eisenhower were installed during ceremonies at the World Golf Village.

Some highlights of the evening:

- The introduction of Olazabal included a video message by fellow Hall of Famer and countryman Seve Ballesteros, who is battling cancer. Seve sent his friend a message of heartfelt congratulations and his fans a message that he’s still alive and fighting. Ballesteros looked haggard and wore a cap but spoke with energy and sincerity.

- O’Connor’s nephew, Christy O’Connor Jr., a former Ryder Cupper himself, accepted the honor on behalf of his uncle, who didn’t feel up to the challenge of flying across the Atlantic to appear in person. The senior O’Connor did send a wonderful video message in which he apologized profusely for his absence. The video also showed him still playing golf at his home course, Royal Dublin, robust for a man of 84. “It’s a great honor at my age—22 and a bit,” said O’Connor, drawing a laugh from the audience. “I wonder if I might have enjoyed the honor earlier, but this time is as good as any.”

- Olazabal paused several times during his speech, choking up with emotion, as he thanked the many people who helped his career. He made a special gesture to his parents, Gaspar and Julianna, who were sitting in the front row, and thanked them in Spanish.

- Arnold Palmer accepted the honor for Eisenhower, a good friend of his, and told the story of how Ike (Eisenhower asked Palmer to call him that) had called Masters chairman Clifford Roberts to see if he could play with the Masters champion on the Monday after the tournament. Roberts said he’d ask the winner if it was OK. It turned out to be Palmer. Shortly after the awards ceremony, Roberts approached Palmer with Eisenhower’s request and wondered if Palmer could adjust his schedule for Monday golf. “If the President can adjust his schedule,” Palmer told him, “I can adjust mine.”

- The one awkward moment of the ceremony came when Palmer began to tell a story about his late wife, Winnie, wanting to surprise him for his birthday. She set up a surprise visit from Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie. As Palmer told the story, Golf Channel cameras zoomed in on Kit, his current wife. It was a look-away moment. The punchline of the story, by the way, was Arnie answering the doorbell as he was about to head over to the golf club. He was stunned to see the Eisenhowers on his doorstep. “Can you put up an old man for the weekend?” Ike asked. Palmer was pleased to do so.

- Wadkins rivaled Olazabal for the most emotional speech. Lanny made a point to thank a lot of people who helped him along the way, from Wake Forest Coach Jesse Haddock to the late Dick Harmon, among others. He saved a special thank you for his brother, Bobby, who also played on the tour. Bobby, sitting in the crowd, turned red and had quivering lips as he tried to hold back tears while Lanny, also battling his emotions, said haltingly, “I wouldn’t be here without Bobby. He pushed me at every point along the way. So thank you, Bobby.”

- A number of Hall of Fame members in attendance were introduced to the crowd by the night’s emcee, Rich Lerner of Golf Channel. The Hall of Famers on site included LPGA founder Louise Suggs, Carol Semple Thompson, Palmer, Charlie Sifford (who got a loud roar), Carol Mann, Marlene Streit Stewart, JoAnne Carner and former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman.

More from Golf.com: Wadkins | Olazabal | Palmer





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