Els heads new World Golf Hall of Fame class

By Doug FergusonMay 10, 2011, 4:16 am

World Golf Hall of FameST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Ernie Els followed the trail of South African idol Gary Player by winning golf tournaments all over the world, a journey that took him all the way to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Els, a three-time major champion and the ultimate global player of his generation, was among six people to be inducted Monday night at the World Golf Village.

The 41-year-old South African, known as the “Big Easy” for his languid swing and soothing smile, won 62 times around the world, including the U.S. Open twice and a British Open at Muirfield.

“It’s been a long journey coming from South Africa,” Els said at the two-hour ceremony.

Even as he still pursues more majors, Els is heavily involved in research and finding a cure for autism. His 8-year-old son, Ben, is autistic, and the boy was escorted into the room as a video of Els’ career was being played, his eyes fixated on the screen. Els later spoke of the joy he feels having his son sit on the range with him as he hits balls.

“He’ll sit there and watch the ball take off in the blue sky,” Els said.

Els was elected on the PGA Tour ballot. Japanese icon Jumbo Ozaki, who won more than 100 tournaments, was voted into the Hall of Fame on the International ballot. Doug Ford and the late Jock Hutchison, both two-time major champions, were selected through the Veterans category. Former President George H.W. Bush and the late Frank Chirkinian, the television golf producer for CBS Sports, were selected through the Lifetime Achievement category.

Their induction brought membership in the Hall of Fame to 136.

Els and Ford were the only inductees at the ceremony. Ozaki has a back injury that makes it difficult to travel, and he felt he needed to be home with his family as Japan recovers from the earthquake and tsunami. Bush also was not able to attend. Chirkinian had a videotaped message that was made just days before he died.

The ceremony included a tribute to another Hall of Famer, Seve Ballesteros, who died Saturday of a cancerous brain tumor.

Players must be at least 40 to be considered for the Hall of Fame, and Els was voted in on his first try. This is the first time since Vijay Singh in 2006 when an active player was inducted. Els practiced Monday morning at the TPC Sawgrass as he prepares for The Players Championship this week.

“I think it’ll be a very special feeling to step on the first tee knowing you’ve made the Hall of Fame,” he before the ceremony. “I’m still trying to win golf tournaments, still trying to win major championships. I think it’s a huge bonus for anybody’s career.”

Els grew up knowing he would have to travel the world to play golf. The example came from Player, who has logged more air miles than any other golfer.

Els won the Junior World Championship in San Diego as a teenager, beating Phil Mickelson. He won nine times on three tours when he broke through in 1994, winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont in a playoff that lasted 20 holes in stifling heat.

He won another U.S. Open at Congressional three years later, and captured the British Open in 2002.

“Coming from South Africa, I didn’t even know there was a Hall of Fame,” Els said. “I look back in the records now, the Hall of Fame has been going since 1940. So obviously, I missed something. My dream was to win majors and to try to do what Gary Player did, win the Grand Slam and win a bunch of golf tournaments, trying to get onto the U.S. tour and things like that.”

Asked what made him unique, Els said he would leave that for others to decide.

“You don’t get inducted in here without doing something to catch people’s attention, whether it’s winning 18 or 19 majors like Jack Nicklaus or building golf courses like Pete Dye,” he said. “There are people here that have done special things in the game of golf. I feel I’ve won my fair share of tournaments around the world, a truly global golfer like my idol, Gary Player.”

The Hall of Fame induction is an awkward one for Ford, who was part of the original Hall of Fame in Pinehurst, North Carolina. He never received enough votes for election on the PGA Tour ballot, but was taken in the Veterans category.

“It’s like waiting for an old girlfriend, I guess. You keep thinking, ‘What did I do wrong?”’ Ford said before the ceremony. “I thought I had some fairly good records, and you just hope that you get here. Of course, it’s an honor. You just go to get here somehow.”

He told of wanting to play baseball for the Yankees, and trying to decide whether to sign with one of its farm teams. Ford said his father asked him how long he could play baseball, and he said about 10 years.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you stay with the golf. You’ll last forever,”’ Ford said. He still plays at age 88.

Ozaki won only one time outside of Japan, yet he inspired a nation of golfers behind him. He captured the Japan Golf Tour money list 12 times and won the Japan Open five times.

Bush becomes the second U.S. president in the World Golf Hall of Fame; Dwight D. Eisenhower was inducted in 2009. Bush was selected for helping to raise the profile of golf, serving as honorary chairman of The First Tee and the Presidents Cup.

Chirkinian died of cancer on March 4, just three weeks after learning he had been selected for induction. He was the foremost golf producer at CBS Sports, leading its coverage of the Masters for nearly four decades. Among his innovations were installing a camera on the blimp and using scores in relation to par to show who was leading tournaments.

The Scottish-born Hutchison won the 1920 PGA Championship and the 1921 British Open among this 14 wins in his career.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.