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Tiger Woods' World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony

21 Min Read


Tiger Woods' World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony

    Written by Staff

    The World Golf Hall of Fame inducted four new members Wednesday, highlighted by 82-time TOUR winner Tiger Woods. Former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Susie Maxwell Berning and Marion Hollins, a trailblazer who made a name as both a golf course designer/architect and a former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.

    In addition to the inductees, Renee Powell was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Charlie Sifford Award, while Peter Ueberroth and the late Dick Ferris were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Below are the transcripts of the speeches from Woods, Finchem and Berning (Hollins was inducted posthumously):

    TIGER WOODS: Thank you. Crap, I just lost a bet to Stricker that I wouldn't cry. Thank you, Sam.

    All the inductees, all the people who -- all the past Hall of Famers who are here, players, the World Golf Hall of Fame committee, thank you for inducting me and passing me in here. Jay, thank you for moving the age down from 50 to 45.

    I'm going to start kind of retro, so I'm going to go at 6 years old, so 40 years ago. So at 6 years old I was getting hooked to the game of golf. My dad was playing, and he was a member and was able to play at what was called the Navy Golf Course in Long Beach, California. In order to play as a dependent, you had to be 10 years old or older. Obviously, I did not fit that criteria. So in order for me to kind of play in the game, we found a par-3 course at Heartwell Golf Park in Long Beach.

    So my mom took me there, and a pro, Rudy, at the time, my mom was like, hey, can my son play here and practice here a little bit? Okay, let me see him hit a few shots. Well, I hit a few shots, and he says, okay, he's got unlimited balls. So that's where I ended up starting playing.

    So fast forward a couple years, I'm now 8 years old. I'd be dropped off -- one of the great things about playing at Heartwell, they had a tournament every Saturday. So I spent the week practicing at the park right down the street. So my dog Boom-Boom and I, which I named after Freddy, we'd go down to the park. I'd hit balls in the dark, in the grass, through trees, in the sand, through the hula hoops, everything. So my dog, I'd only hit two golf balls. He would go lay down next to each one of them. Well, that's kind of how I learned to play the game of golf.

    Well, at the age of 8, my mom during those tournament days was so supportive and so great, she would give me 75 cents. So 75 cents would allow me to buy a hot dog, and then 25 cents would be used to use the pay phone to call her to come pick me up. If the pay phone swallowed it, I had a backup.

    Well, that backup then turned into putting contests, which I ended up pocketing a few more quarters, which led into skins games, which led into dad's finding out why -- okay, how did you get more quarters? Then he'd say, okay, well, you can't putt for quarters. Fine, done, I won't putt for any more quarters. I come home a week later, I've got a pocket full of dollars.

    I told you not to putt for quarters. I didn't. Okay. No more putting for money. Done.

    Next week, come home with a pocket full of dollars. He said, I thought I told you never to putt for money again. I didn't. I went out and played skins.

    So that was my introduction at about age 8 to about 10. So during that time my dad used to get off of work at 4:12 at McDonnell Douglas, and my mom would drop me off at the entryway to the golf course. Well, I would make my way to what they called the old back nine is The Ditch. My dad, as you have known, is a former special forces and a Green Beret.

    So mom would drop me off. I would hop into the ditch. I would then walk on the south side of The Ditch because the clubhouse was perched up two stories. So they could only see on the Norse side of The Ditch. So I would sneak down the first hole to the second hole. But dad taught me how to always grab a piece of foliage, cover yourself up, listen for noise. If you hear anybody coming, lay still. Part sniper.

    So I would lay there, I would pick up golf balls. Obviously, military guys aren't the straightest of players. So at the time I'd be in The Ditch finding golf balls, and as we all know back in those days, there was only Surlyn or balata. If I found a balata ball, are you kidding me? I've got a brand new fresh balata, I can use this in a tournament. Surlyn balls only used for practice.

    So I would walk in The Ditch, listen for noise, any cart traffic, any guys coming over from playing 18. If I hear them slice the ball in the trees, drop down, lay still, covered up.

    I would lay there under the bridge at the 3rd hole, and I'd sit there, and I'd just wait patiently, patiently. There would be a cart come up. You there? Yep, coming up. So my dad would be in the cart, and we'd go out there, and at the age of 8, I would play underage the golf course. And the great thing about Navy golf courses, the first nine holes played all the way out, kind of like a links course. So the further you went out, the further away you were from the clubhouse.

    So when I got out there, it was by then, especially in the wintertime, it was already dark. So we had a rule, if you ever lost the golf ball, we'd be done, and we'd have to drive in. So part of understanding how to shape shots and knowing where I hit it on the face, where I would hit it all started then. So if I hit it, Dad, I pulled it left, it's up the left side, it's going to be here. We'd drive there, it's there, we can continue playing. The furthest I ever made was 17 holes in the dark. Never quite got to 18.

    But that -- one of the things that drove me was his passion to play the game of golf. I was never going to be denied to play. I loved it. I had this burning desire to be able to express myself in this game of golf.

    One of the things that Dad had instilled in me is that he grew up in an era, same era as Charlie Sifford and why my son is named after Charlie, is that you had to be twice as good to be given half a chance. So that understanding and that drive, as Sam said, train hard, fight easy. I made practicing so difficult, hurt so much, because I wanted to make sure that I was ready come game time. I hit thousands of balls, hands bleeding, aching, just so that I could play in a tournament.

    Southern California Junior Golf Association had amazing tournaments throughout the summer. We'd play all these great golf courses. Now meanwhile, you have to understand, I only played Heartwell or snuck on the Navy golf course. So one of the neatest things in the world for me was to play on a golf course as I read the name of the golf course and it had the two letters afterward, CC.

    So I was going to go play a country club. We had these fresh greens, not these bouncy poa greens that's all over the place where they're cut probably twice a week. I'm going to get a chance to play fresh greens.

    Well, playing at some of these golf courses, I was not allowed in the clubhouses where all the other juniors were. The color of my skin dictated that. As I got older, that drove me even more.

    So as I was denied access into the clubhouses, that's fine. Put my shoes on here in the parking lot. I asked two questions only, that was it. Where was the 1st tee, and what was the course record. Not complicated.

    So throughout my junior golf days, we didn't have the financial means to play some of the bigger events. As I progressed through the sport, our family made -- or was forced to make a decision. As I became of age when I was about 14, 15, I was going to start playing what is called the AJGA, American Junior Golf Association. It was at that time in its infancy stages, but it was at that time where all the junior golf players were playing all around the country. I was there getting exposed to possible collegiate scholarships. College coaches were there to watch them play.

    Obviously, we didn't know that we were going to have enough money for me to go to college or a top college or be recruited.

    So my family made a tough decision, and at the age of 14-1/2 we took out a second mortgage so I could go out and play the AJGA Tour. Mom stayed at home. Dad traveled. And I went out and played the AJGA Tour on our second mortgage.

    So without the sacrifices of Mom who took me to all those junior golf tournaments, and Dad, who's not here, but who instilled in me this work ethic to fight for what I believe in, chase after my dreams, nothing's ever going to be given to you, everything's going to be earned. If you don't go out there and put in the work, you don't go out and put in the effort, one, you're not going to get the results, but two, and more importantly, you don't deserve it. You need to earn it.

    So that defined my upbringing. That defined my career, which allowed me to get into a great university like Stanford. From there, I turned pro. And Phil Knight is here, CEO of Nike, and at the time Wally Uihlein was the president and CEO of Titleist, very generous signing a little punk kid from Stanford at 20 years old to these exorbitant contracts, first thing I was able to do is I was able to pay off that mortgage.

    I've gone to have a successful career. I've been able to play around the world, see cultures, playing different places. One of the goals I had early on in my career was to win on every single continent. Well, I didn't play in the Antarctic Four-Ball. That was out. I lost in a playoff to Nick Price at Sun City in '98, and then we played the Presidents Cup in South Africa, where our captains, or my captain, Jack Nicklaus, and the international captain, Gary Player, when we went into a playoff, we thought it was in the best interest with Tim Finchem that it was in the spirit of the game to end the event on a tie. Well -- I did beat Ernie in singles earlier.

    So it was in the spirit of the game, it was fantastic, but yes, I did get him in the singles, so that was good. I don't know if you count that as a win or not, it was a tie, whatever. It was a half a point.

    But I was able to play all around the world, chase after my dreams and passions, and all the relationships I've been able to develop. I've had two amazing parents. I had amazing golf instructors, unbelievable caddies, friends that I've had for a lifetime. Jer-Dog who's here, DJ, B-Bell. Bryon, I call him B-Bell, we met in seventh grade. Mr. Cordova's Spanish class. He is now -- he runs my golf course design business, but he was also my caddie when I won the third U.S. Amateur. He was also my caddie when I won the Southern Cal Amateur, when like Feherty he told me I couldn't hit a shot.

    I told him to just go over there and shove it. I hit the shot. It was at Hacienda, and I started off that day with a 4 on the first hole, then made eight straight 3s. So I was right, B-Bell was wrong.

    Come '99 I had -- Bryon was still in college, and he was going to University of San Diego, trying to get into med school. So I thought he might need a little bit of money. So I said, hey, why don't you caddie for me at Torrey? Okay, cool.

    Well, we made the cut on the number. I was last off the back nine on the South Course. I shot 62, 65, and Billy Ray Brown on the last hole with an eagle.

    Come Saturday, one of the coolest shots I hit was on the 6th hole was this blistering 3-wood right down the gut, hit a sprinkler head, bounced up on the green, rolled up to the hole six feet. He says, great shot, but you missed it; that doesn't count.

    So all these years later, I gave him the car, which was funny because it put him into a different tax bracket, which he wasn't very happy with. But you have to understand, I got to this position because of my upbringing, having two unbelievable parents. But I didn't get here alone.

    I know that golf is an individual sport. We do things on our own a lot for hours on end, but in my case, I didn't get here alone. I had unbelievable parents, mentors, friends, who allowed me and supported me in the toughest times, the darkest of times, and celebrated the highest of times.

    So I just want to say thank you to my mom, Sam, Erica, Charlie, everyone here, all my friends that have come to be here. This is an individual award, but it's actually a team award. All of you allowed me to get here. I just want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

    TIM FINCHEM: Where's Davis going? He's supposed to help with this stuff. Davis Love, as he said in his comments, going way back into the '80s, I don't know how Davis does it because he's currently building four golf courses in four places in the country. He's built a tournament in Hilton Head or Sea Island. He fishes all the time. He skis. And he gets by -- I don't understand how somebody can do it, but he does it. He was a great selection to help me.

    I'm just going to say it's been a long night, so I'm going to say a few just thank yous, if that's all right.

    I absolutely enjoyed my tenure at the PGA TOUR. There's nothing I would have liked to do better. Working with the caliber of people that populate this building now is just such fun. The people are smart, energetic. They want to do change. They want to get ahead. And it's meant a lot, I think, for Jay to cultivate that kind of group of people that he'll have under his wing as he moves forward.

    I want to thank the Hall of Fame members for coming tonight. You are the bedrock for the World Golf Hall of Fame, and to have you at these events is terrific. Some of you I haven't seen in a few years, and it was great to see you tonight.

    Of course I'm delighted that Tiger is here. Thinking back about it, Tiger played the U.S. Amateur right over here across the street a long time ago. He played really well, but I didn't pay that much attention to him because I had to go get on an airplane and go to Akron and be there for a PGA TOUR event. And I got up there, and TOUR players usually, when they get done with their rounds, they head for the hills, get ready to get down the road, and get ready for the next tournament. But at this one, I couldn't find any guys around, and I went in the clubhouse, and it was packed, and it was packed because the players had gathered around a television to watch Tiger playing down here in the Amateur.

    It sort of taught me a lesson, and I started thinking about how this man can impact huge numbers of people the way he does. And the more I thought about it and then our teams thought about it in terms of measuring, we came up with some very sophisticated ways to measure the certain things that happen. And the thing we wanted to measure was to answer this question: Is Tiger Woods the most noticeable or recognizable person on the planet? And the information came back to us that indeed he was the only living individual on the planet in terms of how many people can be in that position.

    It started us thinking even more, and I think, as I look down at Charlie, I think he has the potential, the only person I know that can pass Tiger by in terms of being recognized throughout the globe. So, Charlie, we're going to be watching you on that one.

    A few thank yous. I want to thank Deane Beman. Deane Beman, I think a lot of you might not recognize the fact that when Deane came down here and took over the PGA TOUR and started to build it, the net worth of the PGA TOUR was $150,000. You think about that for a minute. And he took it from where it was to great heights in a short period of time before he decided he wanted to leave and started to play some golf.

    We talked about Dick Ferris and Peter Ueberroth tonight, but I want to mention one thing that was mentioned earlier in that discussion, and that is that both Dick and Peter, while they were partners in major business activity, including Pebble Beach, they also were fully and completely dedicated to helping the game of golf and helping the PGA TOUR.

    The interesting thing about them was that they would play off each other, and when you went to them with a challenge, they would work on it and come back, particularly in Peter's way, of quietly explaining how it could be done better. They were great at that, and having that capability to share with us made our life a lot easier in terms of growing the game of golf.

    I also want to thank the Bushes, President Bush 41, President Bush 43. In both cases, when we approached both of those gentlemen to assist us to grow The First Tee and really reach thousands and thousands of young people, they jumped at it, and they've been jumping at it ever since, and they've been very active. Except for 41, of course, passed, but it was an incredible partnership.

    And lastly, this is a very personal item, I just want to mention to you how proud I am of my family. We have a great family in our house. I have a son and a daughter-in-law, who lives with my son elsewhere but not that far away, about an hour away. We have three girls who visit us occasionally, and they're here tonight. We have, as of three weeks ago, two baby identical, 100 percent identical girls born to our oldest daughter Kelly. And then we have my wife Holly.

    Holly I think of as the MVP of our family day in and day out. She is the smartest person I know. She can run around me like nobody's business. She takes on challenges that I personally don't think she should take on, but takes them on, makes them happen. She raises money incredibly, at an incredible level in the Jacksonville area, and I am just so blessed to have her as my partner.

    Holly, in front of all these folks, I want to thank you again for agreeing to marry me. Thank you.

    SUSIE MAXWELL BERNING: Wow. I think I wouldn't be so nervous if I had a golf club in my hand.

    Judy, thank you so much for introducing me tonight, but more importantly, for being my dear friend for over 50 years. And for you to win 26 tournaments and yet you fainted at my wedding, I don't understand that.

    I thank you for sharing this great honor with me today. As well as my maid of honor, Leslie Holbrooke, is also here tonight and a Tour friend of ours. Thank you, Leslie, very much. I am honored.

    I'm honored and privileged to be selected into golf's elite class of accomplished athletes, people like Patty, Mickey, Judy, Kathy, Jack and Arnie, and so many others. It is the only Hall of Fame in sports which honors both men and women together. Not bad for a girl 5'2" from Oklahoma who really thought horses was going to be her future, not golf.

    I want to thank the Hall of Fame committee and everyone who had a say in my induction. To all my Reserve Club members, Palm Springs friends, Scottsdale friends who made this trip here with me, thank you. You've made my life so meaningful and fun.

    To my LPGA sisters who have guided and encouraged me throughout my years, to UC Ferguson, who helped me, convinced me to give up my horses and play golf. And as Judy said, Jim Flick was instrumental in helping me refine my swing and take my game to the next level.

    But more importantly, my family. To my extended family, including my former husband Dale, your support over these years meant a lot to me. And to my mom and dad for allowing me to chase my dreams. To my brothers, Jerry, Bill, Roger, whose competitive spirits and tough brotherly love prepared me for this journey. Roger, thank you for being here. I only wish that Bill and Jerry could be with us, but they're watching from above and beaming with pride as their little sister accepts this honor.

    Roger's influence always motivated me to be better and to achieve my own success. And I also wish to thank Roger's daughter Jennifer and her support for being here along with her three children, Addie, Julia, and Ryan.

    To my most cherished and life's greatest accomplishments, my fifth and sixth major, my daughters Robin and Cindy.

    To have my girls here, along with their children, my grandchildren, Ian and Acacia, and Cindy's husband Nick, thank you so much. I love you all.

    Everyone being here this week, bunking out in local hotels, reminded me of our days on Tour as a family. Cindy and Robin would travel with me from tournament to tournament in the summer, and as they each got older, they would caddie, one for me and one for another player on the LPGA Tour. At the same time, after a while, Robin became -- Robin and I became the first mother-daughter to compete in an LPGA tournament together, and that was in 1989 at the Konica.

    I wish to congratulate my fellow inductees, Tim Finchem, Marion Hollins, and Tiger Woods on this very special occasion. We're all here enshrined together for sport's greatest honor.

    Tiger, I know it's hard for you to believe, but as young as I am, I won all my tournaments before you were born.

    And by the way, Tiger, of my three U.S. Opens, the total winnings was $16,000. I was wondering if you'd like to swap checks. Perhaps, if not all, we could do one, right?

    Oh, golf has been so good to me, and it's been an exciting ride. Golf hasn't done -- golf hasn't been as exciting as riding a horse. I thought that riding a horse was much more exciting.

    What really convinced me to go into golf was watching Patty Berg give a clinic. And I know there are several other of us that played the Tour, we were motivated and inspired by watching Marilyn Smith give clinics and others. After watching Patty, I got hooked on golf.

    And once on Tour, the support and adventures continued. Those of us who played, we were a big sisterhood. We were fierce competitors. On the course, we tried to beat each other's butt, but there was always never any love lost. Off the course, we took care of each other. We would eat, room, and travel together from town to town in caravans.

    I always thought that having my own family on Tour was not just a blessing, but it was an advantage. No matter how the round went, I was mom first. My priorities were always to make sure their day went well and to spend time with them, to show and teach them that their goals are worth going after, that tough competition can happen in a loving environment.

    When playing, I respected everyone. I feared no one. But tonight I am humbled, thankful, and extremely blessed. Thank you for this wonderful great honor in my professional life. Thank you.

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