ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Ernie Els and Doug Ford are flip sides of a World Golf Hall of Fame coin.
Els, 41, is grateful and humbled to be inducted Monday night as a first ballot member, but he feels strange receiving an honor mostly bestowed on players whose careers have ended.
Ford, 88, wondered if he would ever be inducted after being passed over so many years.
“I wouldn’t say awkward, but it’s a funny situation,” Els said in a news conference before Monday’s induction ceremony.
Els has won more than 60 times around the world, 18 times on the PGA Tour, three times in majors, but he wants more. His induction comes as he struggles with his game.
“My very current form has been diabolical so far this year,” Els said. “I’d like to get that right as soon as possible.”
Els has missed the cut in his last two starts, the Heritage on the PGA Tour and the Ballantine’s Championship on the European Tour. In 10 starts on the PGA Tour and European Tour this year, he’s yet to post a top 10.
“I feel so much drive in me, so much I’d still like to accomplish in the game,” Els said. “I know time is running out, but many players in history have won quite a few majors in their 40s. I’d like to do that.”
Though Ford’s record seemed worthy of World Golf Hall of Fame membership with 19 PGA Tour titles and two majors, he was passed over in annual voting until making it through the veteran’s category this year.
“It’s like waiting for an old girlfriend,” Ford said. “You keep thinking, `What did I do wrong?’ I thought I had a fairly good record. You just hope that you get here. You just got to get here.”
Ford fought many political battles as a player representative in his time. He was among the pivotal figures who led tour pros to split with the PGA of America and form the PGA Tour in the late ‘60s. Bob Goalby believes Ford’s battles and tough disposition hurt his popularity and may have been a factor in his being passed over for induction so many years.