Inductees Share Common Bond

By Brian HewittNovember 17, 2004, 5:00 pm
World Golf Hall of FameWe celebrate the newest World Golf Hall of Fame inductees for their diversity: Marlene Stewart Streit, the first Canadian in the Hall; Charlie Sifford, the first African-American; Isao Aoki, the first Japanese man and Tom Kite, the first player on the PGA Tour to win six million dollars in career earnings.
 
But actually there is a common denominator among all four. It is persistency. Fact is, its hard to find a great player that wasnt persistent.
 
Streit, who turned 70 in March, won national championships in six different decades.
 
Sifford had to wait until he was well past his prime before he was allowed to play on the PGA Tour.
 
Aoki, a stranger in a strange land, never took up residency in the States. As Greg Norman, his presenter at the induction ceremony pointed out, Aoki and his wife had to pack a lot of bags every time they traveled to the Occident.
 
Kite worked like a mule on his game but never played or choked like a dog. And he was organized. Christy Kite, Toms wife, told Sports Illustrated, Tom likes to say, If its not on my calendar, it doesnt exist. And he means it.
 
Commissioner Tim Finchem reminded everybody at Monday nights gala that Kite has written a personal note of thanks to his Pro-Am partners, without fail, for more than 30 years. Thats persistence, too.
 
During Siffords partially rambling but wholly moving acceptance speech, he talked about Norman and Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. I never was a player like they were, he said wistfully.
 
With all due respect to Nicklaus, Palmer and Norman, they were never a player like Charlie Sifford from the standpoint of courage in the face of racism. Black players followed in his footsteps, but no one but Charlie ever walked in Siffords golf shoes.
 
Marlene Streit was barely five feet tall and didnt hit her driver much past 200 yards. But she sensed distances. Yardage books, to her, were a distraction. Bob Toski, the great teacher and something of a bantam himself, once called Streit, the best small golfer in the game.
 
Aoki holed that famous wedge on the 72nd hole of the 1983 Hawaiian Open to beat a stunned Jack Renner by a shot. It was a magical moment, almost as magical as the fact that Renner returned in 1984 to win the same tournament.
 
Aoki never mastered English but he was Japans poet laureate of the international language of putting. His idiosyncratic toe-in-the-air style with the flat stick is still a marvel to behold.
 
I asked Kite, late Monday evening, if Harvey Penick, his instructor and himself a Hall of Fame member, had been there, what he would have said.
 
Harvey was here in spirit, Kite corrected, I just wish I would have had the chance to give him a big hug.
 
Maybe somewhere, Penick and Ouimet and Vare and Travis and Vardon and all the others in golfs pantheon who have moved on from this world, are hugging each other.
 
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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.