Re-Working the Rules of the Hall of Fame

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
There are few better sports discussions between friends than one which involves the Hall of Fame ' particularly when the debate takes place after closing time.
 
This past week, the World Golf Hall of Fame released its PGA TOUR ballot for 2007. There were 20 candidates from which to choose, including lone newcomer David Toms.
 
David Toms
David Toms is up for Hall of Fame election for the first time.
The criteria for being on this list: minimum of 40 years old; PGA TOUR member for 10 years; 10 PGA TOUR wins or two wins in the majors or PLAYERS Championship.
 
A few of these criterions need adjustment.
 
First of all, while retirement doesnt factor into golf the same way that it does in other sports, the Champions Tour should be a barometer for minimum age requirement to qualify for the Hall of Fame.
 
Forty is way too young an age to make someone eligible, particularly with how well this age group has performed on TOUR the past decade. Fifty would make much more sense.
 
Being a TOUR member for 10 years is fine; but is winning 10 times on TOUR or winning a couple of majors worth consideration?
 
At first, I thought not. But then I did some research and found that only 97 players (according to The Sports Network) have won at least 10 career PGA TOUR events. Not a huge number when you consider the thousands and thousands of players who have competed on TOUR over the years.
 
My initial thinking was that a player should have to win at least 15 or maybe even 20 events to make the ballot ' but then it was pointed out to me, in one of those friendly discussions, that there is a huge difference between eligibility and initiation.
 
I, a fairly open-minded individual, have now altered my opinion. And I have also changed my way of thinking about a player only having to win two majors to be eligible (I initially thought that number was a little low as well).
 
Only 74 men have won multiple major championships, compared to 117 who have won just one (according to wikipedia.org).
 
Winning two might not be worth getting you into the Hall, but its worth consideration.
 
Its good that golf has some sort of criteria in regards to accomplishment. In other sports, like baseball or football, eligibility is based solely on service and period of retirement.
 
That leads to Walt Weiss and Gary DiSarcina being on the latest MLB ballot, which is like having Woody Austin and Neal Lancaster on the TOUR version.
 
Aside from the age minimum, there are two other things I would change in regards to the PGA TOURs Hall of Fame requirements.
 
One, the fact that winning a PLAYERS Championship carries the same weight as winning a major championship. I realize that this is the PGA TOUR ballot and theyll do just about anything to place their darling tournament on equal ground with the four majors.
 
But, enough already. Its a wonderful event. The fifth best tournament an individual can win. But its not a major. It's ... not ... a ... major.
 
The other thing is the fact that someone seemingly must be elected each year.
 
According to the rules, In the event that no candidate receives 65%, the nominee receiving the most votes with at least 50% is elected.
 
Say what?
 
This is how Vijay Singh got elected a couple of years ago, which was ridiculous on two fronts. In the first place, Singh, whether or not he passes the jerk test, is Hall of Fame worthy and should have easily made it ' based on the criteria. Granted, he should be well past his prime and at least 50 years old before he gets in, but thats not the rule.
 
But if he didnt receive the necessary 65 percent for admittance, then he shouldnt be admitted.
 
From 1996-2000, you needed 75 percent of the returned ballots to make it in. From 2001-2003, you needed at least 65 percent. Since 2004, you can get in with just 50 percent if nobody else gets more than you.
 
Being a legend has never been easier.
 
Halls of Fame should be difficult to get into. You cant anoint ultimate greatness on an athlete just because you want to throw a ceremony and make a few bucks. Thats absurd.
 
The election of Singh raises another concern in relation to Hall of Fame voting: Should there be voters or should there be an unbiased points system?
 
The LPGA uses a points system based on accomplishment. You have to reach a certain point total (27) ' based on major wins (2 points), regular tournament victories (1), scoring titles (1), and Player of the Year awards (1) ' to be elected into the Hall. You also must have made at least 10 starts in each of 10 years on tour.
 
Before 1999, LPGA players had to win 30 tournaments, including two majors; 35 tournaments with one major; or 40 events and no majors to automatically qualify.
 
Obviously, the LPGA has eased its policy, but its still tougher for an LPGA player to get into the Hall than it is for a PGA TOUR player.
 
If you applied the current LPGA points system to the PGA TOUR, several of the men who are already in would be out, and all but one of those on the current ballot wouldnt be eligible.
 
That lone person would be Henry Picard. Picard, who received 53 percent of the vote in 2006, while Larry Nelson got 65 percent, would have a total of at least 28 points, based on his 26 TOUR wins and two majors.
 
Macdonald Smith would have 24; Curtis Strange, who got 50 percent of the vote last year, would have 23 points. So, too, would Craig Wood (37%) and Lanny Wadkins (34%).
 
Davis Love III would have 20 points. Fred Couples and Mark OMeara would have 19 (if you apply the PGA Player of the Year, which dates back longer, as well as the PGA TOUR Player of the Year).
 
Singh would have 36 points (and counting), but many of his fellow recent inductees would come up short. Greg Norman would have 26; Nick Price 25; Tom Kite 23; Ben Crenshaw 21; Payne Stewart 14; Larry Nelson 13.
 
Of todays crop of players who will one day be eligible under the PGA TOUR rules, only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson currently have enough points using the LPGA system to gain admittance. Mickelson would have 30 points. Tiger 81 (Is there a Super Hall of Fame?).
 
Of course, guys like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen can get in through either the PGA TOUR or International balloting.
 
A points system certainly takes out bias, but it doesnt account for human reasoning. Sports are more than just an accruement of numbers, and you need individual judgment from those associated with the game.
 
Norman might have come up one point short on the LPGA system, but anyone who covered or followed golf throughout the '80s and '90s knows that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
 
Plus, Norman would probably go Bruce Banner on everyone if he endured one more near-miss.
 
The PGA TOUR Voting Body is comprised of golf journalists, historians and golf dignitaries.
 
I do not get a vote. But if I did, this is how I would cast my ballot.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Baggs Check: Casting My 2007 Hall of Fame Ballot
  • LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

    “Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

    In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

    She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”

    For Ariya, Lexi, finish was fabulous, frustrating

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 12:47 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson can take a punch.

    You have to give her that.

    So can Ariya Jutanugarn, who beat Thompson in the gut-wrenching conclusion to the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    They both distinguished themselves overcoming adversity this season.

    The problem for Thompson now is that she’ll have to wait two months to show her resolve again. She will go into the long offseason with the memory of missing a 2-foot putt for par that could have won her the championship, her first Rolex Player of the Year Award and her first Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Thompson took home the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and Vare Trophy for low scoring as nice consolation prizes, but the Sunday finish was a lot like her season.

    It was so close to being spectacular.

    She was so close to dominating this year.

    That last 2-foot putt Sunday would have put Thompson in the clubhouse at 15 under, with a one-shot lead, which would have added so much more pressure to Jutanugarn as she closed out.

    Instead of needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, Jutanugarn only needed to birdie one of them to assure extra holes. She went birdie-birdie anyway.

    Thompson was on the practice putting green when she heard the day’s last roar, when Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-foot birdie to beat her.

    “It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it,” Thompson said of the short miss. “I don’t really know what happened there. It just happens. I guess it’s golf.”


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Thompson was asked if the weight of everything at stake affected her.

    “No, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I putted great the whole day. I guess, maybe, there was just a little bit of adrenaline.

    “We all go through situations we don’t like sometimes.”

    Thompson endured more than she wanted this year.

    She won twice, but there were six second-place finishes, including Sunday’s. There were three losses in playoffs.

    There was the heart-wrenching blow at the ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, when she looked as if she were going to run away with the title before getting blindsided by a four-shot penalty in the final round. There were two shots when a viewer email led to a penalty for mismarking her ball on a green in the third round, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard.

    Thompson was in tears finishing that Sunday at Mission Hills, but she won a legion of new fans in the way she fought back before losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    There was more heartache later in the spring, when Thompson’s mother, Judy, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring surgery to remove a tumor and then radiation.

    For Thompson fans, Sunday’s missed 2-foot putt was a cruel final blow to the year.

    This time, there were no tears from Lexi afterward.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds . . . it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said. “This won’t either.”

    After Thompson bounced back from the ANA loss to win the Kingsmill Invitational in May, she acknowledged how the loss motivated her.

    “I'm as determined as any other person out here,” Thompson said. “We all want to win. I have a little bit more drive now.”

    She was so close this year to elevating herself as the one true rock star in the women’s game. She will have a long offseason to turn Sunday’s disappointment into yet more fuel to get there.

    Thompson will prepare for next year knowing Jutanugarn may be ramping her game back up to dominante, too.

    Jutanugarn looked as if she were going to become a rock star after winning five times last year to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and then rising to No. 1 with a victory at the Manulife Classic back in May, but it didn’t happen.

    Jutanugarn struggled through a summer-long slump.

    She failed to make a cut in six of seven starts. It wasn’t as miserable a slump as she endured two years ago, when she missed 10 consecutive cuts, but it was troubling.

    “Even though I played so badly the last few months, I learned a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m growing up a lot, and I’m really ready to have some fun next year.”

    Her surgically repaired shoulder was bothering her again, but it was more than that.

    “This time it was more about becoming No. 1,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach. “I think all of the responsibilities got to her.”

    Gilchrist said he could see a different focus in Jutanugarn this week. He credited Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott for helping her deal with all the pressure that has mounted with her growing status.

    “It’s been a long process,” Nilsson said. “She’s felt too much expectation from everybody else, where she loses focus on what she can do.”

    Marriott said they asked Jutanugarn to come up with something she wanted to do to make herself proud this week, instead of worrying about what would please everyone else.

    It worked.

    “I told my caddie, Les [Luark], that thinking about the No. 1 ranking wasn’t going to help me be a better golfer,” Jutanugarn said. “I wanted people to say, `Oh this girl, she’s really happy.’ That was my goal, to have fun.”

    Late Sunday, hoisting the trophy, Jutanugarn looked like she was having a lot of fun.

    Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

    By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

    The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

    Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

    The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

    Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

    Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

    Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

    A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

    With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

    And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

    “I have no idea,” he laughed.

    Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

    The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

    The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

    “So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

    While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

    Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

    Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

    The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

    All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

    Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

    Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.