Two veteran LPGA stars back 10-year HOF rule

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Should the LPGA abandon its 10-year membership requirement for Hall of Fame induction?

A couple of respected LPGA Hall of Famers don’t think so.

The 10-year requirement is a hot-topic issue with Inbee Park pushing through injury to try to meet the requirement next week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and with Lorena Ochoa locked outside the LPGA Hall of Fame because she failed to meet the requirement.

“I do like the rule,” Annika Sorenstam said Friday in a Golf Channel media conference call advancing next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “I think that it's not just about performance. I think it's about the commitment to the tour, the commitment to the game and there are very few [instances] where a player is able to do it in such a short period of time. I do think that Lorena will get in one way or another, and I'm not so worried about Inbee, either. I think we need to have that commitment rule. And a lot of times, you don't get inducted until later in your career anyway.”

When Ochoa’s Hall of Fame status became an issue late last year, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb told GolfChannel.com that she liked the 10-year membership rule, even though it meant Webb had to wait more than five years to be inducted after she met the tour’s 27-point requirement in just 4 1/2 years on tour.

“It’s also about the commitment to the LPGA, that you are around,” Webb said. “I’m not sure where I stand on that. I don’t begrudge Lorena’s decision to have a family, but the timing was bad for the LPGA. It didn’t help us that the most popular player on tour suddenly retired. I know Lorena will be a first-ballot inductee when she’s eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame.”

Ochoa announced she was retiring early in 2010 to focus on starting a family after seven full seasons as a tour member. She was 28 and the Rolex world No. 1 when she made the announcement. Technically, Ochoa isn’t even eligible for induction via the LPGA Veterans Committee because she hasn’t met the 10-year membership requirement, but LPGA commissioner Mike Whan and LPGA chief tour operations officer Heather Daly-Donofrio both told GolfChannel.com at year’s start that the Veterans Committee would review Ochoa’s situation and the criteria affecting her. The Veterans Committee was reconstituted this spring after dissolving and failing to meet for several years.

Park, 27, is struggling through a thumb injury as she attempts to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame in Seattle next week. Park met the tour’s 27-point requirement for induction last year, but she needed to make 10 starts this year to meet the 10-year membership requirement. She shot 84 last week at the Volvik Championship and withdrew after the first round, which counted as her ninth start of the year. She needs to complete the first round of next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to get credit for her 10th start this season, which would qualify her for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Park said she will address her plans for the rest of the year in Seattle.