Did HOF fix its 'unwieldy' process with new criteria?

By Rex HoggardMarch 26, 2014, 5:03 pm

For a game that lives and dies with its numbers – be they on scorecards, points lists or world rankings – this one doesn’t add up.

The new selection process for the World Golf Hall of Fame, Hall chief operating officer Jack Peter explained on Sunday at Bay Hill, was the byproduct of a system that had become too “unwieldy.”

“We looked at this deep and we looked at this wide and we looked at this from a variety of different angles,” Peter explained. “And we came to the conclusion that as the landscape of media coverage continues to evolve and change around the world, we felt that the current voting body of almost 300 people was beginning to get a bit unwieldy.”

As a result, a system that had included some 300 voices, many of whom were media types but also included members of the Hall of Fame and various golf administrators, has been whittled to a commission of 16.

Full disclosure, while we lament the loss of the golf writer’s voice in the selection process, this is not personal. Your scribe has never had a Hall of Fame vote, only an interest in the institution and the incongruities in Peter’s explanation.

The new 16-member commission – which includes Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez, as well as three golf writers – is the Hall’s answer to that “unwieldy” balloting process.

Lost in this explanation, however, are the facts.

While golf’s Hall seems to struggle with the simple math of an up-or-down vote from 300 selectors, the Baseball Hall of Fame – arguably the benchmark for all sport’s Halls – seamlessly manages nearly twice as many votes.

For the 2014 Hall of Fame class bound for enshrinement, 571 votes were cast and Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were granted entry into Cooperstown, N.Y. It’s difficult to argue with those results or the math.

“There would be people who argue that the baseball writers aren’t as inclusive as they should be, like radio and TV announcers are not included. But within the confines of the writers we are very inclusive,” said Joe Posnanski, a columnist for NBCSports.com and a baseball Hall of Fame voting member.

The vote for the annual Heisman Trophy is even more “unwieldy.” In 2013, 928 ballots were cast, including 870 from members of the media, to select Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Heisman officials even added a fan vote to the balloting in 1999.

Pro Football’s Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, may be the closest model to golf’s new selection process, but it is still more inclusive than what the folks in St. Augustine, Fla., concocted.

For enshrinement into the football Hall, nominees are chosen by a 46-person selection committee comprised of 33 media members and 13 at-large delegates, a group made up mostly of current of Hall of Fame members.

Among the other sweeping changes made to golf’s induction process, the minimum requirements for male players to receive consideration for induction were increased to 15 international victories or two majors or Players Championships.

Davis Love III, a likely candidate for induction when the new commission meets later this year, is as good a reason as any to make the process more inclusive, not less so.

“The LPGA Hall of Fame was so strict. How do you know 20 years from now it might be hard to win 30 tournaments, so putting a number on it is kind of restrictive,” Love said. “That’s why it might be good for 400 people to vote on it because they kind of know who is eligible for the Hall of Fame without putting certain numbers on it.”

Nor does it seem likely the new system, as some have suggested, will help alleviate the politics from the selection process. With such a small sample – an inductee needs 75 percent, or 12 of 16, of the commission’s vote – the likelihood of a “personal” conflict is magnified.

“Those veteran’s committees (for baseball’s Hall of Fame) were about the same size and they turned out to be extremely political,” Posnanski said. “Small panels have tendency to be like that.”

Officials also hope the new system will inspire current Hall of Famers to become more involved in the selection process and by default the induction ceremony, which hasn’t exactly been a must-see event in recent years. Yet the new selection system, which includes just four members of the Hall, limits their voices just as much it does the media.

In a letter sent this week to the 300 or so former voters, Peter explained the new process and thanked everyone for their “support, passion and dedication over the years.”

“Your involvement has been extremely valuable and I sincerely appreciate the time each of you have given to this great institution,” he wrote.

While the letter was well intended, it came off sounding like a pink slip and a numbers game that just doesn’t add up.

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

He picked up his clubs three times.

That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

Not that he was concerned, of course.

Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”