Never Too Young for Golfs Hall of Fame

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2005, 5:00 pm
World Golf Hall of FameST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Nick Faldo was 40 when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, two years removed from winning his third green jacket at Augusta National. It was a humbling experience, even for Faldo, to be included among the greatest in golf.
'Now that I'm in the Hall of Fame, I need to play like it,' he said that afternoon in May 1998.
It was too late for that.
Faldo never won again. He never seriously contended in another major.
And that's OK.
Most athletes in a Hall of Fame are not even supposed to play again. Baseball, for example, requires its players to be retired for five years before they get put on the ballot. And that's why Monday night's induction ceremony at the World Golf Village again raised the question that has proven difficult to answer.
When is the right time to honor someone's career in a timeless sport such as golf?
This year's class ranged from Karrie Webb, whose first professional victory was the Women's British Open in 1995, to Willie Park Sr., who won the first British Open in 1860.
For those who believe athletes should be retired, if not in the gloaming of their careers, it must have been odd to see Webb, at age 30, becoming the youngest golfer inducted since the shrine moved to St. Augustine in 1998.
Then again, maybe the shock value had worn off from when Annika Sorenstam was inducted two years ago at age 33. And just wait -- barring a career-ending injury, Se Ri Pak will be 30 when she is eligible for induction in 2007.
Webb certainly has the credentials.
She made it through LPGA qualifying school on her first try, despite playing with a broken bone in her wrist. As a rookie, she won four times and became the first woman to earn more than $1 million in one season. Webb won the career Grand Slam quicker than anyone, male or female, capturing all four majors in a span of seven starts.
It's her birth certificate that makes the World Golf Hall of Fame unlike any other.
Webb felt a little out of place at a dinner Sunday night in a room full of Hall of Famers, such as Carol Mann and Tony Jacklin and Joanne Carner.
'I was just like, 'What am I doing here?' she said. 'I still don't really feel like I should be among these great players. I think that will always take a long time to sink in for me.'
But don't mistake that for an apology. And don't get the idea Webb would have rather waited until she was at least 40, the age minimum for the PGA Tour ballot.
Nor should she have waited.
There is no proper time to induct golfers into the Hall of Fame, so why not put them in when they've earned it? The Hall of Fame should be about performance, not age, and that's one area in which the LPGA Tour does it right.
The PGA Tour and International ballots are tied to minimal standards (10 victories for the PGA Tour ballot), but require their candidates to be at least 40. Players originally had to receive 75 percent of the vote until that was watered down to 65 percent, and further diluted with a loophole that takes the highest vote-getter on at least 50 percent of the ballots if no one otherwise would get in.
Ultimately, there is some element of popularity involved.
How else to explain Ben Crenshaw getting elected in 2002, while Curtis Strange still waits? Their careers were similar -- two Masters for Crenshaw, back-to-back U.S. Opens for Strange -- although Crenshaw never won a money title, player of the year, and never was considered the dominant player of his era.
For the LPGA Tour, it's all about winning.
Players now must earn 27 points -- one for each victory and major award, two for a major. There are no exceptions among active players. Laura Davies is stuck on 25 points. Meg Mallon has 22 points. Both have work left.
The only stipulation is they play 10 years on the LPGA Tour.
But age was never an issue.
'You get points and have to be consistent and play on top for many years,' Sorenstam said last week. 'If it is based on playing performance, it shouldn't matter what age.'
Sure, it seems strange that Webb fought back tears during her induction Monday night, and will be playing in the season-ending ADT Championship on Thursday at Trump International.
Then again, Sorenstam has won 17 times and three majors since her induction. The last male to win at the highest level as a Hall of Famer was Hale Irwin, who was inducted in 1992 and won the MCI Heritage two years later.
For golf, there's nothing wrong with Hall of Famers still in their prime. Webb regularly competed against Beth Daniel, Juli Inkster and Pat Bradley. Paula Creamer, the 19-year-old rookie, had two Hall of Famers as partners (Daniel and Inkster) as partners in her first Solheim Cup.
'It's fun to play some of your career as a Hall of Famer,' Webb said. 'I've loved playing with and getting to know some of the Hall of Fame members. I will always look at these players as though I can't believe my name is among them. Maybe it's harder to accept than if I were 45.'
Instead of asking whether 30 is too young to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame, perhaps the question is why Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods should have to wait until they're 40.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.