Sifford Highlights Hall of Fame Class


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Charlie Sifford became the first African- American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame Monday night.
Tom Kite, Isao Aoki and Marlene Stewart Streit were also inducted on Monday, which marked the 30th anniversary of the first class inducted into the Hall of Fame. These four new members are Nos. 100-104.
Sifford got in via the Lifetime Achievement category and was instrumental in breaking racial barriers on the PGA Tour. He became the first African-American to play full-time on tour and won twice, including the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open.
'The five months I had to wait were harder than the 52 years I played,' Sifford said. 'I wanted to be damn sure I'd be here tonight.'
Sifford, who will also become the first African-American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, was one of the founding fathers of the Champions Tour and won the 1975 PGA Seniors Championship.
'This makes me feel like I'm a worthwhile professional golfer,' Sifford added.
Kite was elected on the PGA Tour ballot and was a 19-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 1992 U.S. Open. He won the money title in both 1981 and 1989, the same year he captured both the Players Championship and the Tour Championship.
Kite has seven victories on the Champions Tour with one major title, the 2000 Tradition. He contended for two majors this season, the Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open, but ultimately fell short.
Kite competed on seven Ryder Cup teams and was captain of the American squad in 1997.
Aoki was elected on the International ballot and truly embodied international golf. He won 73 times worldwide, including 56 titles in Japan and is the only Japanese player to win on six tours: PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Japan Senior Tour, PGA European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
He became the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour when he captured the 1983 Hawaiian Open. Aoki, who owns nine titles on the elder circuit, is the second Japanese player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after Hisako 'Chako' Higuchi was enshrined in 2003.
'I think he's the Arnold Palmer of Japanese golf,' said Greg Norman, who introduced Aoki. 'To travel from your home shores is not an easy task.'
Streit was chosen in the Veterans category and was the first Canadian elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame. She is the only golfer to have won the Australian, British, Canadian and United States women's amateur championships.
She won 11 Canadian Ladies Open Amateur titles, nine Canadian Ladies Close Amateur titles and three Canadian Ladies Senior Women's Amateur tournaments. Streit captured four USGA events, including the 1956 U.S. Women's Amateur title. Last year she became the oldest player ever to win the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, a title she claimed a total of three times.
'This is beyond any wildest dreams I could ever think of having,' Streit said. 'I'm proud to be the first Canadian. To see the Canadian flag flying here at the World Golf Hall of Fame is simply magic.'
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