Greg Norman, winner of 75 worldwide events, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame Sunday in St. Augustine, Fla.; along with Payne Stewart, Donna Caponi, Judy Bell, Karsten Solheim and Allan Robertson.
The evening began with the Florida A&M Marching Band performing and playing the National Anthem. They then gave way to Master of Ceremonies and Hall of Famer Gary Player.
After a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Player turned the microphone over to Dr. Trey Holland, the 56th President of the United States Golf Association.
Holland introduced Bell, the first honoree of the night. Bell, a lifelong amateur, both competed on and captained two Curtis Cup teams. She has been a volunteer for the USGA for 31 years, and in 1996 was the first woman elected president of the organization.
Im very grateful for this honor and I want to accept it on behalf of all golfs volunteers, said Bell, who is battling cancer.
Donna Caponi was the next inductee, introduced by LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty Votaw.
Caponi won 24 times on the LPGA Tour, including four major championships. She turned professional at the age of 19 in 1965 and earned her first victory in the 69 U.S. Womens Open.
I am what I am today because of my parents, said Caponi, trying to fight back tears.
She also recalled the time she and her father went to the driving range after receiving her first set of junior clubs at the age of eight.
He no sooner put (the ball) on the tee and I whacked him between the eyes, said Caponi, who at the time was leery that he may never again let her hit balls.
Thank God he did or I wouldnt be standing here today, she said.
Votaw then introduced John Solheim, who accepted on behalf of his late father who died last year of Parkinsons disease at the age of 88.
Karsten Solheim was the founder of Karsten Manufacturing, which produces Ping putters and equipment. He developed investment casting and perimeter-weighted irons, revolutionizing how clubs were made.
The LPGA Tours Solheim Cup was named after the innovator.
What my father enjoyed most was, Thank you, Karsten, from the many golfers, said John, the current Chairman and CEO of Ping.
He then looked to the sky and added, Dad, Ive never seen a bigger thank you than this.
Sir Michael Bonallack, the former secretary of the Royal & Ancient who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000, accepted on behalf of the late Allan Robertson.
Robertson is credited as the first golf professional. He was best known as the maker of the featherie ball and was the first player to break 80 on the Old Course at St. Andrews, with a round of 79 in 1858.
Legend has it that he and Old Tom Morris never lost when playing as a team.The nights ceremonies drew to a completion with the recognition of the two primary inductees, Stewart and Norman.
Stewarts great friend, Paul Azinger, introduced Paynes widow, Tracey, who accepted on behalf of her late husband.
Payne won three major championships, but more important Payne was a consummate professional, said Tracey, who was accompanied in the audience by their two children, Chelsea and Aaron.
Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary. And though Ive had to live the last two years without him, I must continue to testify to what a blessing he was to me and our two children.
With the knickers and the tam-o-shanter cap, Stewart was one of the games most recognizable figures. He won 18 times around the world, including 11 on the PGA Tour. He won the 1989 PGA Championship, and the 1991 and 99 U.S. Opens.
The inspirational leader on five Ryder Cup teams, Stewart was killed along with five others in a plane accident Oct. 25, 1999. He was 42 years old.
Last, but certainly not least, Steve Elkington introduced fellow Aussie Greg Norman. The two had played earlier in the day in Normans own Franklin Templeton Shootout down in Naples.
Norman has won 75 worldwide events in his career; 18 of which have come on the PGA Tour. He has also captured two major championships ' the 1986 and 93 British Opens. Nicknamed The Shark for his aggressive nature, Norman held the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Ranking longer than anyone since its inception in 1986.
In addition to his many victories, Norman has an impressive list of emotional defeats. The 46-year-old Australian finished runner-up 31 times on the PGA Tour; eight of which came in major tournaments.
In 1986 Norman won the Saturday Slam by leading all four majors after the third round. Hes also the only player to lose all four majors in a playoff.
Perhaps both his worst professional defeat and biggest personal triumph came Sunday in the 1996 Masters. Norman led Nick Faldo by six shots entering the final round, only to shoot 78 and lose by five.
Of that incident, Norman said on this Sunday, The outcry of public support changed my outlook forever.
Regardless of his success and his shortcomings, fans and peers will always remember Norman for the manner in which he handled himself.
(Jack Nicklaus) taught me how to win and how to lose. The game of golf gives and it takes away.