Golf Hall of Fame Suffering Through Image Crisis
He had all the credentials to be included among the best who ever played the game, with 25 career victories on the PGA Tour and three major championships.
'Wow, where can I start?' Singh said when he was introduced as the 105th member.
Then he showed that he's not finished.
The next day he shot 64. By the end of the week, Singh won the Houston Open to become the first repeat winner in its 60-year history, become only the second player to surpass $40 million in career earnings and close within three victories of Sam Snead's record of 17 tour victories after turning 40.
They can start the engraving at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., but it would be best to etch only his name into granite. The 42-year-old Fijian might have a half-dozen more victories and another major when he is inducted. It doesn't seem right.
The Hall of Fame is supposed to be the cherry on top of an illustrious career, not a palate cleanser. It would be like Dan Marino going back to training camp with the Miami Dolphins, or Wade Boggs deciding to play one more year with the Boston Red Sox. But golf isn't like other sports.
'They don't retire,' said Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. 'The age and all the criteria on the ballot are things we review continuously. There's no right answer. It's all very subjective. Is 40 the right age? Is 50 the right age?'
Nick Faldo was elected on the International ballot in 1998 at age 40, two years after he won his sixth major. Singh was the youngest player elected from the PGA Tour ballot, and he won't even be the youngest player at the induction ceremony on Nov. 14. Karrie Webb, who earned her way in through the LPGA points system, will be 30.
Annika Sorenstam was inducted two years ago when she was 33. She won eight times the next year, including her seventh major, and has won all three tournaments she has played this season, including major No. 8.
Is it fair to make Webb wait 20 years to get inducted?
'There's a school of thought that says it's a good thing for Vijay Singh and Annika Sorenstam to carry the Hall of Fame mantra while competing at such a high level,' Peter said. 'It's not a perfect science.'
Still, the World Golf Hall of Fame has some imperfections. Officials are so desperate to increase membership in the Hall of Fame that they have watered down the standards twice in the last four years.
When the new Hall of Fame opened in 1998, candidates had to receive at least 75 percent of the vote. But after no one from the PGA Tour was elected in 2000, the criteria was lowered to 65 percent, paving the way for the late Payne Stewart to get elected in 2001, Ben Crenshaw and Tony Jacklin a year later.
Then, it added a clause in 2003 that if no one gets 65 percent, it will take the highest vote-getter provided he is on at least 50 percent of the ballot. Isao Aoki got in last year under that technicality, and Singh made it this year when he was named on only 56 percent of the ballots.
'When there are 20 names on the ballot, what could happen is that votes get spread out, and inherently it drops all the percentages across the board,' Peter said. 'I don't think an individual should be penalized for that.'
It hasn't seemed to hurt baseball, which had 27 names on the last year's ballot. Boggs and Ryne Sandberg each got at least 75 percent of the vote.
Then again, how Singh only got 56 percent is a mystery. Along with the 25 tour trophies, Singh had the No. 1 ranking, two money titles, a Vardon Trophy and PGA Tour player of the year. Neither Crenshaw nor Stewart had those credentials, yet each got over 65 percent.
It could be that voters simply weren't ready to put Singh into the Hall of Fame with his career in full flight. Perhaps their focus was on those who no longer play at the highest level (Larry Nelson and Curtis Strange) or are no longer alive (Henry Picard, Craig Wood, Denny Shute).
'It's a subjective process,' Peter said. 'I don't know how or why people vote the way they do.'
The hard part is figuring out who votes.
When the Hall of Fame was at Pinehurst, a committee came up with a list of candidates and submitted them to a vote of the Golf Writers Association of America, and 75 percent of the vote was required for election. Clean and simple.
Ballots now go to Hall of Fame members, golf writers, the board of the PGA and Champions tours, and executives of groups that signed up to be on the Hall of Fame advisory board, which includes the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the American Junior Golf Association and the Golf Course Builders Association of America.
Oh, and a representative from Shell Oil gets a vote because it sponsors the Hall of Fame.
What further hurts the credibility is that the Hall of Fame won't release vote totals, only percentages. That's the same tactic the PGA Tour uses when announcing its player of the year; it doesn't release votes, only who won.
Ultimately, the greatest challenge facing the World Golf Hall of Fame is the perception that it's under the thumb of the PGA Tour. And perhaps that's why some see it more as a marketing tool than a shrine.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:
Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)
What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.
Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.
Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.
Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.
Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:
Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry