Ford bypassed again by HOF

By Randall MellApril 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
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World Golf Hall of FameDoug Ford wasnt a great driver of the ball, but he was one of the straightest shooters who ever played the PGA Tour.
 
In other words, he didnt mince words.
 
Its what people grew to love and loathe about the best (eligible) player who isnt in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
At 86, Ford watched yet another Hall of Fame announcement pass Thursday without his election. He doesnt understand why, and he took dead aim explaining how he feels as if hes being excluded.
 
Ill put my record up against just about anyones in the hall, Ford said in a telephone interview from his home in Gulf Stream, Fla. I think I have a hell of a record. I dont know what theyre looking for. I dont know what the knock on me is, but Im just not that enthused about it anymore. If they dont appreciate what Ive done, I cant do anything about it.
 
Lanny Wadkins was the only World Golf Hall of Fame inductee announced Thursday, but Ford gained some momentum toward eventual induction.
 
Wadkins was named by 61 percent of the voters. That Ford is the best (eligible) player not in the Hall of Fame is evident in the fact that he finished second in this years voting. He was named on 46 percent of the ballots with Mark OMeara next on 31 percent. Last year, Ford was named on just 35 percent.
 
Still, Ford wonders if hell die before he gets in.
 
If they ever select me, I might not accept, because of the way theyve handled this, Ford said. My two boys think I should, but I dont know. If I do (get selected), well see.
 
That feisty, combative nature is integral to what made Ford one of the best players of the 50s, an era that included Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Julius Boros, Cary Middlecoff and Arnold Palmer. That nature also might be what cost Ford a quick induction.
 
With two major championships among his 19 PGA Tour victories, Ford was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1975. He was selected by a vote of his peers. When the PGA Hall of Fame merged with the World Golf Hall of Fame in the 80s, only the PGA inductees with dual member standing were brought into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ford wasnt one of them.
 
Bob Goalby, the 1968 Masters winner and a good friend to Ford, thinks Fords combative nature might have hurt him after the halls were merged. Ford was a member of a number of PGA Tour player committees and was forever waging battles with the Tour.
 
The way I look at it, Im already a Hall of Famer, Ford said. The players voted you into the PGA Hall of Fame. They knew your record and what golf was all about. I dont even know who votes today.
 
There are two ways Ford could be voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, through a vote by the World Golf Hall of Fames PGA Tour Voting Body or through the Veterans Category.
 
The PGA Tour Voting Body is made up of more than 200 journalists, historians and golf dignitaries. Election requires being named on 65 percent of the returned ballots, or in the event nobody garners that many votes, to be the leading vote getter while appearing on at least 50 percent of the ballots.
 
To make it through the Veterans Category, Ford would have to be selected by members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors Selection Committee, a body made up of representatives of seven major golf organizations (Augusta National, European Tour, LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA, the R&A and the USGA).
 
Its always been a mystery to us why dads not in the Hall of Fame, said Doug Ford Jr., a golf teacher at Deer Creek Country Club in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Dads credited with 19 PGA Tour victories, two majors and being on four Ryder Cup teams. That should speak for itself. When you look at players who have gone in recently, their record is not as good as dads, some arent event close. Im not saying those players shouldnt be in, just that dads very deserving.'
 
Tom Kite was elected despite fewer majors (1) and fewer PGA Tour victories (18) than Ford. So was Tommy Bolt (1 major, 15 PGA Tour titles). Bob Charles and Gene Littler made the Hall of Fame with just a single major and Chi Chi Rodriguez without a major.
 
Goalby said Fords battles with the tour couldnt have helped his cause.
 
Its a travesty Dougs not in, Goalby said. Evidently, he alienated some people. Doug grew up in New York. He never gave anybody any quarter. He had to be the first on the bus, the first to get off, the first to pick up his check. Its the way he grew up in New York, but he was respected by his peers. He was always fighting the tour for the underdog. I think his being outspoken hurt him.
 
Goalby said the fact that Ford played long past his prime, especially while posting high scores at the Masters, may have hurt his chances of election in later years.
 
People who didnt know how great he was saw him play after his game slipped, Goalby said.
 
In his prime, Ford won with grit and guts and a fabulous short game. He won the 1955 PGA Championship, beating Middlecoff in the match play final, and the 57 Masters, coming from behind in the final round to beat Snead.
 
Its a disgrace Doug isnt in the Hall of Fame, said Al Besselink, a seven-time PGA Tour winner from Fords era. Doug was very stubborn, very honest, and he was never going to kiss anyones butt to get in the Hall of Fame, but I thought he was a wonderful guy who was unbelievable under pressure. He was a magician around the greens. He could get up and down from a ball washer.
 
Besselink and Goalby hope Fords skill will be remembered one year soon in the Hall of Fame.
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