Class of 2015 Hall of Famers receive surprise calls
October 15, 2014
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- October 15, 2014
- Mark O'Meara won 16 times on the PGA TOUR and claimed two major championship titles. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Driving in a heavy rainstorm to the Galleria in Houston on Monday to pick up something for his wife, Mark O'Meara's cellphone started buzzing. The caller ID said it was PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.
O'Meara almost let it go through to voicemail.
"It's not like the commissioner calls me very often," he said.
But O'Meara decided to take the call, one the 57-year-old has been waiting to receive for several years. Finchem delivered the good news: O'Meara had just been voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
O'Meara pulled over to the side of the road. He needed a few minutes to collect himself. Then he called Meredith and told her he would be home in 15 minutes and they would have something to celebrate.
"She was over the top, jumping up and down like a kid in a candy store," said O'Meara, whose final two wins of his 16-win TOUR career came in 1998 at the Masters and the Open Championship.
The commissioner also made another call Monday, this one to another two-time major winner, David Graham. Finchem said that USGA executive director Mike Davis had presented his name to the Hall of Fame committee and that Graham had been voted in.
After the commissioner hung up, Graham received a second call from Davis, then a third from Hall of Fame chief operating officer Jack Peter.
"It's been a long time," said the 68-year-old Aussie, "but like they say, good things are worth waiting for."
Laura Davies was back home in Sussex, England, preparing for Tuesday's ceremony at Buckinghame Palace in which she would become a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, receiving the medal from Princess Anne. That's when she saw that LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan was trying to contact her.
She figured she better call him back.
"I went from thinking I was in trouble and a little bit of panic to problably the best news ever," she said.
In 271 days, the trio of O'Meara, Graham and Davies, along with the late golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as the Class of 2015. For many years, the ceremony has been held at the Hall of Fame's home in St. Augustine, Florida, but next year's ceremony will be at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland on July 13, the Monday of The Open Championship at the Old Course.
It's the start of a rotation for the induction ceremony, which will be held in 2017 back at St. Augustine, then 2019 at Pebble Beach, as the Hall of Fame announces its newest inductees every two years.
"We have to remember it is the World Golf Hall of Fame," said Graham, a two-time major winner. "Taking it and doing it in different places, I think, is a wonderful idea."
Being part of the first class to be inducted at St. Andrews will make an already special occasion even more so for the three living inductees. Each one has played competitively at St. Andrews.
"Anybody's who has played for a living, whether you're an American, Australian, English -- it doesn't matter what country you're from -- but if you love the game of golf, you know deep down inside that St. Andrews is where it all started," O'Meara said. "It's the home of golf."
Davies has played the women's British Open at St. Andrews twice. The Old Course has not treated her well.
"I've missed the cut both times," she said, "but it's still my favorite golf course."
It was just a few weeks ago during Ryder Cup week that the Hall of Fame announced its decision to hold next year's ceremony at St. Andrews. Jack Peter said the move has been well-received.
"Makes me wonder why we didn't do that years ago," he said.