The World Golf Hall Of Fame produced another special evening at Cipriani in New York to usher in the 2017 class consisting of Henry Longhurst, Davis Love, Meg Mallon, Lorena Ochoa and Ian Woosnam.
Jeff Babineau of Golfweek shares the thoughts of inductees on a ceremony eve that gathered the largest-ever past Hall attendance. (Counts varied, but 1300 tournament wins and 150 major championship wins were represented by the 34 pictured to your right.)
The LPGA Tour is in New Zealand this week, but their American-based players turned out to support their former rival, Ochoa. Besides another stellar turnout of past female HOF inductees, current stars Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr and Stacy Lewis were in attendance.
Even though the ceremony was timed to coincide with the 2017 Presidents Cup so officials and players gathering in New York could attend, most under-55 male stars failed to take the hint: your attendance would have been enjoyed at the World Golf Hall of Fame ceremony. You might even learn that the game was played well before 1999!
As Doug Ferguson highlighted in his AP game story, Love insisted the night was the greatest honor of a life well-lived. Yet not one player or assistant from Love's 2016 Ryder Cup squad or the 2017 Presidents Cup team was able to show support in person.
Granted, there are team room table tennis games to play, room service appetizers to devour and naps to take. But given how much nonsense is uttered when today's young players hang around after a buddy wins, the no-show brigade suggests the admiration does not extend to their elders or golf's history. The history-makers, cord-cutters before there were cord-cutters and trailblazers who allow today's giants to play for massive money.
But worse than the younger players not attending: the noticeable absense of longtime Love competitors and Cup colleagues--Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Price, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk--who are all in town and yet unable to make the short trip from a downtown hotel to Wall Streets' beautiful Cipriani ballroom. The first four are current World Golf Hall of Fame members, the last two will be inducted some day.
These lines from Love's speech suggest how he will feel about this no-show brigade when reflecting on the night, but only after he's soaked up the great vibes and love from his proud family:
I was lucky enough to play for Arnold and for Jack, too, when they were captains of Presidents Cup teams. I was lucky enough to have Watson, Kite, Watkins, Strange and Sutton as my Ryder Cup captains. I was a captain twice of Ryder Cup teams. This week I'll be an assistant captain of a Presidents Cup for a third time. When I look back over the 31 years of my professional career, my involvement in these team matches, matches that have brought together the world of golf, have meant as much to me as anything I have done in the game. And I'm looking forward to supporting my teammates this week at Liberty National.
Too bad they couldn't be bothered to return the Love.
**Eamon Lynch at Golfweek on Ian Woosnam's journey. Woosnam's speech was particularly emotional in thanking his family and strongest supporters. Had some of this week's players attended they would have learned Woosnam won a lot of golf tournaments!
Rex Hoggard led with Woosnam's speech and followed up with Meg Mallon, who also gave a family, instructor and caddy-heavy thank you talk that resonated.
Here is Mallon's speech, introduced by former LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw.
Ryan Herrington at Golf World highlighted some of the finer moments from each inductee, for those who did not attend but want to pretend they did.
John Hopkins introduces the late Henry Longhurst. I loved the image of the Hopkins family passing around Longhurst's Sunday Times column. "Longhurst is on form today," said mum.
Lorena Ochoa was introduced by Juli Inkster and told 29 minutes of stories and thank yous.
Here is Love's speech for those who could not attend.