Green Strange Elected into World Golf Hall of Fame
'I never really thought much about the Hall of Fame until Hubert would call me every year about this time and say, 'Did you get the call?'' Strange said. 'And I would say, 'No. You?''
The call finally arrived for both Wednesday.
Strange, the dominant American golfer of the 1980s whose career was defined by his consecutive U.S. Open victories, was elected through the PGA TOUR ballot with 70 percent of the vote, easily getting the required 65 percent.
Green won 19 times and two majors, no victory more memorable than the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills when he was told of a death threat on the back nine of the final round and handled it with fearless tenacity.
'On 15, I hit my second shot in the back of the green; the pin was in the front,' Green recalled. 'I got over the putt and I'm thinking, 'Am I supposed to be shot?' Hit the putt. Didn't hear anything. I said, 'Chicken.' Didn't say it too loud.'
He was selected through the Veteran's Category.
That brings total membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame to 114. Se Ri Pak has qualified through the LPGA Tour and will become eligible when she plays her 10th tournament this year, giving her the required 10 years on tour. The World Golf Hall of Fame will announce other selections through either the Veteran's Category or Lifetime Achievement this summer.
The induction ceremony is Nov. 12 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
No one was elected from the International ballot. If no one receives the necessary 65 percent, the highest vote-getter is elected provided he gets at least 50 percent. Jumbo Ozaki of Japan got 46 percent of the vote, followed by Jose Maria Olazabal (43 percent) and Sandy Lyle (37 percent).
From the PGA Tour ballot, Craig Wood had 57 percent of the vote. Lanny Wadkins had 50 percent.
The 52-year-old Strange won 17 times on the PGA TOUR. While some of his peers (Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite) won more often, Strange was considered the best American in a decade when global stars emerged like Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo.
Strange beat Faldo in an 18-hole playoff at The Country Club in 1988 to win the U.S. Open for his first major. A year later at Oak Hill, he became the first player since Ben Hogan (1950-51) to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles. Sixteen of his victories came in the 1980s, when Strange won the money title three times and in 1988 became the first player to crack the $1 million mark.
He also played on five Ryder Cup teams and was the U.S. captain in 2002, when he and Sam Torrance helped restore sportsmanship and the proper spirit to matches that had gotten ugly at Brookline, then postponed a year because of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.
'We don't ever sit back and reflect on what you've done or what you hope to do,' Strange said. 'That's not in our nature. We're always trying to go forward. I think now we can possibly sit back and enjoy it a little bit. It's certainly a wonderful feeling. To think about being involved in an organization that goes back to the greats we grew up idolizing ... it's quite overwhelming.'
Green, who overcame oral cancer four years ago, won 19 times on the PGA TOUR, all but three of them in the 1970s. His final victory was the 1985 PGA Championship at Cherry Hills, where he defeated Lee Trevino by two shots.
A third major eluded him in 1978 at the Masters, when Gary Player closed with a 64 to make up a three-shot deficit. Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Green hit an 8-iron to 3 feet on the final hole. He missed the putt when he heard a radio announcer.
'Anything you've done is all part of your career,' Green said. 'It's not good all the time. Different folks might think about the putt I missed at Augusta. Some folks might think it's the win at the Open with the death threat, or beating Trevino in the PGA.'
Asked what he was most proud of in his career, the 60-year-old Green replied, 'Getting in the Hall of Fame.'
'It's a nice, quiet feeling of success,' he said. 'When you're out hitting golf balls, trying to improve your game, you don't know how well you've done. To be involved in this organization is the pinnacle of life. I'm not sure if I'm qualified, but they're letting me in now, so the hell with everybody else.'
The room erupted in laughter. It was the kind of talk for which Green and Strange were known. They didn't sugarcoat anything, no matter how many people they might have offended.
'Honestly, I never thought much about the Hall of Fame other than this time of the year when Hubert would say something to me,' Strange said. 'But it's a vote. You know that. There's enough stories in other sports. It did cross my mind, and it's hard for me to answer.'
Green said his father taught him to be a straight shooter in words and deeds.
'If someone asked me what I thought about a golf course, I told them,' he said. 'Do you want me to lie. You ask a question and I think you would expect the truth. I always thought that was more important than being a politician. All we can do is play golf.'
As Hall of Fame members, each now has his own vote.
'I'm going to vote Curtis off,' Green said with a laugh.
Continue for the complete PGA TOUR and International ballots.
PGA TOUR Ballot (92% returned)
Curtis Strange (70 percent)
Craig Wood (57 percent)
Hubert Green (52 percent) * selected in the Veterans category in 2007
Lanny Wadkins (50 percent)
Denny Shute (31 percent)
Doug Ford (30 percent)
Bob Charles (23 percent)
Tony Lema (23 percent)
Ken Venturi (23 percent)
Mark O'Meara (19 percent)
Macdonald Smith (18 percent)
Fred Couples (17 percent)
Davis Love III (16 percent)
Miller Barber (13 percent)
Don January (13 percent)
Fuzzy Zoeller (13 percent)
Dave Stockton (9 percent)
Harold Jug McSpaden (7 percent)
John Daly (2 percent)
David Toms (1 percent)
International Ballot 91% returned)
Masashi Jumbo Ozaki (46 percent)
Jose Maria Olazabal (43 percent)
Sandy Lyle (37 percent)
Colin Montgomerie (27 percent)
Graham Marsh (20 percent)
Christy OConnor, Sr. (19 percent)
Ian Woosnam (19 percent)
Peter Alliss (18 percent)
Kel Nagle (16 percent)
Norman Von Nida (10 percent)
Max Faulkner (6 percent)
Snedeker leads by one heading into final round
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.
Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.
Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.
Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.
Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings
With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.
Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.
It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.
The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.
Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.
In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
Thompson bounces back from rule violation
If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.
If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.
Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.
Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.
After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.
She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.
If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.
Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.
The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.
The story here isn’t really the penalty.
It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.
That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.
Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.
That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.
That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.
So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.
With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.
We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.
Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.
Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.
Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.
Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.
Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead
INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.
When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.
She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.
“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”
If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.
The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.
But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.
“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”
Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.
She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.
The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.
She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.
“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”
Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.
She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.
Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.
“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”
Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.
Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.
“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”