Green Strange Elected into World Golf Hall of Fame
'I never really thought much about the Hall of Fame until Hubert would call me every year about this time and say, 'Did you get the call?'' Strange said. 'And I would say, 'No. You?''
The call finally arrived for both Wednesday.
Strange, the dominant American golfer of the 1980s whose career was defined by his consecutive U.S. Open victories, was elected through the PGA TOUR ballot with 70 percent of the vote, easily getting the required 65 percent.
Green won 19 times and two majors, no victory more memorable than the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills when he was told of a death threat on the back nine of the final round and handled it with fearless tenacity.
'On 15, I hit my second shot in the back of the green; the pin was in the front,' Green recalled. 'I got over the putt and I'm thinking, 'Am I supposed to be shot?' Hit the putt. Didn't hear anything. I said, 'Chicken.' Didn't say it too loud.'
He was selected through the Veteran's Category.
That brings total membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame to 114. Se Ri Pak has qualified through the LPGA Tour and will become eligible when she plays her 10th tournament this year, giving her the required 10 years on tour. The World Golf Hall of Fame will announce other selections through either the Veteran's Category or Lifetime Achievement this summer.
The induction ceremony is Nov. 12 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
No one was elected from the International ballot. If no one receives the necessary 65 percent, the highest vote-getter is elected provided he gets at least 50 percent. Jumbo Ozaki of Japan got 46 percent of the vote, followed by Jose Maria Olazabal (43 percent) and Sandy Lyle (37 percent).
From the PGA Tour ballot, Craig Wood had 57 percent of the vote. Lanny Wadkins had 50 percent.
The 52-year-old Strange won 17 times on the PGA TOUR. While some of his peers (Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite) won more often, Strange was considered the best American in a decade when global stars emerged like Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo.
Strange beat Faldo in an 18-hole playoff at The Country Club in 1988 to win the U.S. Open for his first major. A year later at Oak Hill, he became the first player since Ben Hogan (1950-51) to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles. Sixteen of his victories came in the 1980s, when Strange won the money title three times and in 1988 became the first player to crack the $1 million mark.
He also played on five Ryder Cup teams and was the U.S. captain in 2002, when he and Sam Torrance helped restore sportsmanship and the proper spirit to matches that had gotten ugly at Brookline, then postponed a year because of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.
'We don't ever sit back and reflect on what you've done or what you hope to do,' Strange said. 'That's not in our nature. We're always trying to go forward. I think now we can possibly sit back and enjoy it a little bit. It's certainly a wonderful feeling. To think about being involved in an organization that goes back to the greats we grew up idolizing ... it's quite overwhelming.'
Green, who overcame oral cancer four years ago, won 19 times on the PGA TOUR, all but three of them in the 1970s. His final victory was the 1985 PGA Championship at Cherry Hills, where he defeated Lee Trevino by two shots.
A third major eluded him in 1978 at the Masters, when Gary Player closed with a 64 to make up a three-shot deficit. Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Green hit an 8-iron to 3 feet on the final hole. He missed the putt when he heard a radio announcer.
'Anything you've done is all part of your career,' Green said. 'It's not good all the time. Different folks might think about the putt I missed at Augusta. Some folks might think it's the win at the Open with the death threat, or beating Trevino in the PGA.'
Asked what he was most proud of in his career, the 60-year-old Green replied, 'Getting in the Hall of Fame.'
'It's a nice, quiet feeling of success,' he said. 'When you're out hitting golf balls, trying to improve your game, you don't know how well you've done. To be involved in this organization is the pinnacle of life. I'm not sure if I'm qualified, but they're letting me in now, so the hell with everybody else.'
The room erupted in laughter. It was the kind of talk for which Green and Strange were known. They didn't sugarcoat anything, no matter how many people they might have offended.
'Honestly, I never thought much about the Hall of Fame other than this time of the year when Hubert would say something to me,' Strange said. 'But it's a vote. You know that. There's enough stories in other sports. It did cross my mind, and it's hard for me to answer.'
Green said his father taught him to be a straight shooter in words and deeds.
'If someone asked me what I thought about a golf course, I told them,' he said. 'Do you want me to lie. You ask a question and I think you would expect the truth. I always thought that was more important than being a politician. All we can do is play golf.'
As Hall of Fame members, each now has his own vote.
'I'm going to vote Curtis off,' Green said with a laugh.
Continue for the complete PGA TOUR and International ballots.
PGA TOUR Ballot (92% returned)
Curtis Strange (70 percent)
Craig Wood (57 percent)
Hubert Green (52 percent) * selected in the Veterans category in 2007
Lanny Wadkins (50 percent)
Denny Shute (31 percent)
Doug Ford (30 percent)
Bob Charles (23 percent)
Tony Lema (23 percent)
Ken Venturi (23 percent)
Mark O'Meara (19 percent)
Macdonald Smith (18 percent)
Fred Couples (17 percent)
Davis Love III (16 percent)
Miller Barber (13 percent)
Don January (13 percent)
Fuzzy Zoeller (13 percent)
Dave Stockton (9 percent)
Harold Jug McSpaden (7 percent)
John Daly (2 percent)
David Toms (1 percent)
International Ballot 91% returned)
Masashi Jumbo Ozaki (46 percent)
Jose Maria Olazabal (43 percent)
Sandy Lyle (37 percent)
Colin Montgomerie (27 percent)
Graham Marsh (20 percent)
Christy OConnor, Sr. (19 percent)
Ian Woosnam (19 percent)
Peter Alliss (18 percent)
Kel Nagle (16 percent)
Norman Von Nida (10 percent)
Max Faulkner (6 percent)
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