Ben Crenshaw has been inducted. Teacher Harvey Penick has been inducted. But someone was absent from the Austin bunch, an oversight that has now been corrected.
Now Tom Kite can take his place amongst golf royalty. He will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame Nov. 15, alongside Isao Aoki, Charlie Sifford and Marlene Stewart Streit.
In my opinion, those two people (Crenshaw and Penick) have done so much for the game and handled themselves so perfectly throughout their lives that to be able to just follow in their footsteps is incredible, said Kite. When Ben and Mr. Penick got inducted two years ago, I was - you know in the back of my mind I was sitting there thinking, Gosh, I would give anything to have my name put on that list with them. And here, it is going to happen. So I am very pleased.
This year marks the 30-year anniversary since the first class of inductees was sworn in. In addition to featuring this year's class, the induction ceremony (TGC, Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET) will provide a look back at that first class inducted in 1974, including a tribute to Arnold Palmer. Exhibits that recognize the personal and professional achievements of the inductees will open in the Hall of Fame that day, as will an exhibit chronicling Palmer's life and career.
Sifford had given up on receiving the honor, since he had reached 82 years of age. But many golfers helped keep alive his memory.
Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, there's so many great players, I've been around them for 25, 30 years, and I've been up in there, said Sifford.
These are great guys. As long as I've been on the tour, all of them have treated me as I was one of those. I didn't have the game that they had, but I had the determination. I wanted to be in the Hall of Fame, that's what I started out to be, and I'm so proud they selected me and gave me this honor.
Aoki, likewise, was nearly speechless when he heard of the honor.
This is a big surprise and joy, he said. I am happy and happy - I have been doing what I love since I started. I want to thank my caddie and talented people like (Shigeki) Maruyama who have helped me and are doing great on the PGA Tour.
Streit is the first Canadian elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, though she also won numerous championships in the United States.
I've played golf all my life for the love of the game, she said. I love to give back to the game and the young people in Canada, and this is very huge for Canada. I'm just proud. My greatest thrill in golf has been playing for my country.
JoAnne Carner will be on hand to introduce Streit; Ben Crenshaw will present Kite; Greg Norman will bring in Aoki; and Gary Player will welcome Sifford.
Additional Hall of Fame members planning to be in attendance for this year's ceremony are Amy Alcott, Judy Bell, Deane Beman, Patty Berg, Sir Michael Bonallack, Pat Bradley, Donna Caponi, Beth Daniel, Sandra Haynie, Tony Jacklin, Carol Mann, Arnold Palmer, Nick Price, Louise Suggs and Kathy Whitworth. Golf Channel commentator Jim Kelly will serve as the show host. The Golf Channel will air the induction ceremonies at 8:00 p.m. ET on Monday.
The following are the careers in brief of the four inductees:
ISAO AOKI: Elected on the International ballot, Aoki will become the second Japanese member of the Hall of Fame. Capturing 73 career victories, including 56 on his home circuit in Japan, Aoki is the only Japanese player to have won on six different tours: PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Japan Senior Tour, PGA European Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia.
Aoki was Japan's leading money winner five times and his 1983 Hawaiian Open victory was secured when he holed a 128-yard wedge shot for eagle-3 on the final hole - was the first PGA Tour win by a Japanese player. Aoki finished second at the 1980 U.S. Open and is a four-time winner of the Japan Senior Open. He is the winner of nine Champions Tour titles.
TOM KITE: Elected on the PGA Tour ballot, Tom Kite, a native of Austin, Texas, has 19 PGA Tour victories, including the 1992 U.S. Open and 1989 Players Championship. Seventeen of his 19 tour titles came between 1981 and 1993, and he has captured six Champions Tour titles, including the 2000 JELD-WEN Tradition. Kite has been a member of seven U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was team captain in 1997. He was the recipient of the USGA's Bob Jones award in 1979.
CHARLIE SIFFORD: Charlie Sifford was selected in the Lifetime Achievement category. Raised in Charlotte, N.C., he was instrumental in breaking the race barrier in professional golf when he became the first African-American to play full-time on the PGA Tour in 1961. Sifford won two PGA Tour tournaments: the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open. He won the 1975 PGA Seniors' Championship and in 1980, as an original member of the Champions Tour, won the Suntree Classic. With Hall of Fame member Roberto DeVicenzo, he won three Legendary Division titles at Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
MARLENE STEWART STREIT: Selected in the Veteran's category, Marlene Stewart Streit's career has spanned six decades. She will become the first Canadian to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Streit is the only golfer to have won the Australian, British, Canadian and United States women's amateur championships.
Streit won 11 Canadian Ladies Open Amateur titles, nine Canadian Ladies Close Amateur titles and three Canadian Ladies Senior Women's Amateur tournaments. She has also won four USGA events, including the 1956 U.S. Women's Amateur. In 2003, she captured her third U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, becoming the oldest person to ever win the tournament.