[Jack] Whitaker covered, and delivered essays about, all manner of sport. He wrote as he dressed, with tweedy charm. He said of his favorite game, “Golf is the most movable feast of all.” That is, it could be played everywhere, from Merion, where he was a member, to the public courses of Philadelphia where he learned the game in the 1940s. MICHAEL BAMBERGER
Hard to argue with the World Golf Hall of Fame's induction of arguably the four most obviously overlooked candidates based on criteria, accomplishments and place in modern golf history.
Ryan Lavner with a summary of the newest names to be enshrined next July at St. Andrews.
For Immediate Release, and note the finalists list also released. Some pretty surprising inclusions and omissions...
World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum welcomes
Davies, Graham, O’Meara and Tillinghast as the Class of 2015
Class will be celebrated at Induction Ceremony on July 13, 2015 at St Andrews
St. Augustine, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2014) – Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast will be enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum as the Class of 2015. The Induction Ceremony will be held on Monday, July 13, 2015 at the University of St Andrews, just blocks from the Old Course, host site of that week’s 144th Open Championship.
This is the first Class to be elected by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Commission, which debated a group of 16 Finalists. The four members of the Class of 2015 each passed the required 75 percent voting threshold – approval by at least 12 of the 16 members.
The Selection Commission was co-chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam and included the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.
“We are thrilled to welcome Laura, David, Mark and A.W. into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR Commissioner, Selection Commission member and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “The new selection process provided a thorough examination of the candidates by a diverse, international group and we’re delighted with the outcome. Congratulations the Class of 2015.”
The Commission elected the Class of 2015 from 16 Finalists, which were vetted by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee met earlier this summer and vetted every candidate that met the qualifications of the Hall of Fame’s four Induction categories. It presented the following group of Finalists to the Commission:
Laura Davies Female Competitor
Johnny Farrell Male Competitor
Max Faulkner Veterans
David Graham Male Competitor
Beverly Hanson Female Competitor
Catherine Lacoste Veterans
Henry Longhurst Lifetime Achievement
Davis Love III Male Competitor
Meg Mallon Female Competitor
Graham Marsh Male Competitor
Mark O’Meara Male Competitor
Sandra Palmer Female Competitor
Calvin Peete Veterans
Samuel Ryder Lifetime Achievement
Jan Stephenson Female Competitor
A.W. Tillinghast Lifetime Achievement
I was listening in on Tim Finchem's press conference and was shocked when he didn't resist suggestions from questioners suggesting various elements of the World Golf Hall of Fame may be in need of review (age limit, international ballot, timing).
In fact, Finchem suggested that pretty much everything is under review.
(I'm saddened by the possibility that the Players Championship Monday ceremony may not be continuing, but the pathetic lack of turnout by current PGA Tour players and male Hall members suggests the effort, though well-intentioned, has not worked. And let's face it, their presence adds immensely to the cache of the Hall and would make it the celebration of the sport that the WGHOF should be.)
Garry Smits files an excellent summation of all the potential changes revealed in the Finchem press conference, including the potential demise of the dreaded International ballot.
Finchem said the idea of having two voting ballots, one for PGA Tour players and one for international players, might be out-dated.
“At the top of the competitive chart ... the vast majority of those players are now members of the PGA Tour,” he said. “That wasn’t the case 18 or 20 years ago when we had players coming up. Colin Montgomerie was a good example. He played an entire career and did not play much here [in the U.S.]. That really doesn’t happen much anymore. So it does raise a question about the ballot structure.”
The other bone of contention this year is that Couples and Montgomerie received 51 percent of the vote on their respective ballots, the lowest on either in the history of the current format of selecting players to the Hall of Fame. They fell under the loophole that if no one gets 65 percent of the vote, the player leading the ballot gets into the Hall of Fame as long as he gets 50 or more percent.”
Finchem said that almost everything about the Hall of Fame, its selection process and induction ceremony was on the table for change.
“We’re going to look at everything and have more to say about it probably later this year,” he said.
In previewing today's World Golf Hall of Fame ceremony (10 pm ET Golf Channel), Garry Smits talks to some Hall of Famers who aren't afraid to question the inductions of Colin Montgomerie and Fred Couples over others.
Ray Floyd already opened the floodgates, and Tony Jacklin concurred:
“It’s hard to disagree with Raymond,” said Tony Jacklin, a native of England who won two majors and 23 worldwide tournaments. “I vote on the basis of who’s worthy and there’s always majors in it for me.”
“I thought a major should be behind your name to be even considered,” said Sandy Lyle of England, who won two majors and 24 total tournaments. “Quite a lot of players have won majors and not even been considered [for the Hall of Fame].”
The story goes on to quote Bernhard Langer making a case for Mark O'Meara. And Monty, declined the interview requests of Smits.
Through the World Golf Hall of Fame communications department, Montgomerie declined interview requests with the Times-Union.
Meanwhile John Huggan makes a case for the three Scots going into the Hall tonight: Monty, Ken Schofield and Willie Park Jr.
Ed Sherman talks to Jim Nantz, who will be inducting Ken Venturi into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday without his former sidekick able to make the journey due to health issues.
Nantz said the acceptance speech will be “very spare” in the hope that Venturi can return in 2014 and speak on his own behalf.
“We’re going to tell people that we want Ken to be making this talk,” Nantz said. “We were thinking if he didn’t make it to the Hall of Fame, it would crush him. He would have a hard time recovering. But once he hears he has a chance to come back in ’14 and give that speech, he’ll be OK. God willing, he’ll be there.”
Dave Shedloski catches up with David Graham, who has fallen off the World Golf Hall of Fame ballot even though he has two majors and 25 worldwide wins, not to mention all-important-to-Commissioner-Loyalty, a Presidents Cup captaincy.
"It's hurtful," Graham, 66, said of his omission from the Hall of Fame. "When you have a record that should mean something and it doesn't, you have to wonder what's going on."
Graham isn't even on the Hall of Fame ballot, having fallen off in 2000 after failing to garner five percent of the vote in consecutive years. His only avenue to Hall inclusion is the veteran's category -- the route through which Ken Venturi will be inducted in May with Couples, Montgomerie, former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield and Willie Park Jr., who won two Open Championships in the late 1880s.
Alex Miceli caught up with Fred Couples and asked him about Ray Floyd's criticism of lowered standards for Hall of Fame entry. As you can imagine, Couples took it in stride and also made a case for two-time major winners Andy North and John Daly.
More interesting to me was Nick Faldo validating Floyd's criticism.
“I know you're voted to get in, but you've got to cross the line of two majors, 20 wins and you're 40 years old, so there's a few factual things about it, then you can be considered,” Hall-of-Famer Nick Faldo said in agreeing with Floyd's comments. “In theory if you've done your two majors and 20 wins, you don't need a committee.”
I certainly agree with all of Gary Williams' points about the World Golf Hall of Fame voting and criteria, though I'm a little surprised at the outrage expressed on Twitter over Colin Montgomerie's selection when he at least has on-course successes to point to.
It's the cronyism and overall oy factor behind selections like George H. Bush and now Ken Schofield that I find detrimental to the Hall's street cred.
For those who will scream that no criteria will create total chaos I would point to every other Hall of Fame. Outside of removal from the game for a certain number of years there are no benchmarks that players must hit for eligibility. Many things about golf are not analogous to other sports but in this case it most certainly is and leave it up to the voters to know, or at least feel, when it's time for a player to take his place in St. Augustine.
For the Monty skeptics, Daniel Wexler takes a closer look at his record and can't even get excited about the "superhuman" order of merit success cited by George O'Grady.
Third, while one can surely only beat the competition that's put in front of them, a quick glance inside Monty's halcyon 1993-1999 run indicates that in winning his seven straight Orders of Merit, he averaged exactly 20 official E Tour starts per season. And what of his primary competition? Jose Maria Olazabal was next with an average of 18 annual starts - but that's not including the 1995 and '96 campaigns which he missed entirely due to injury. Seve Ballesteros averaged 17.2 E Tour starts during these years, but was clearly well beyond his elite form before Monty's run even began. Ian Woosnam also averaged 17.2 starts in this period, while Bernhard Langer weighed in at 16.7. And then there was Sir Nick Faldo, who was also somewhat on the down side by the time Monty got rolling, but had already largely packed it off to America anyway, averaging only nine annual E Tour starts from 1993-1999.
So while seven consecutive Order of Merit titles is indeed impressive, Monty did manage to time them perfectly (peaking just when much of the competition was somewhat on the wane) and was aided in earning the most money simply by making the most starts.