Goosen, Kirk Bell, Stephenson, Payne and Walters get Hall of Fame nod
October 10, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Shot of the Day
Retief Goosen's marvelous hole out is the Shot of the Day
Retief Goosen was out on a putting green when the call came.
He didn’t recognize the number, but a week earlier Jack Nicklaus had called and let him know he was a finalist in the running for a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame and the announcement would come on this day.
So nervously he picked it up. He recognized the excitable voice of a fellow South African immediately. And the news was good. He’d made the cut.
“It was Gary Player on the phone. It's always great hearing Gary's voice, but he sounded extremely excited, and when he told me, yeah, I sounded very excited,” Goosen said.
“It was a great moment, and I felt shaky after that. We can't wait for the actual day to come around, and getting to that great place, the Hall of Fame.”
He missed a lot of putts on the putting green after that.
But of course, in his prime, when he was winning seven PGA TOUR events including two U.S. Opens (2001, 2004) and a total of 33 worldwide trophies the putts were steaming into the hole.
He was also a member of six straight International teams in the Presidents Cup from 2000 to 2011.
“It was always a goal. You just try and play your best out there and do good for the game, and the rest will come all by itself,” Goosen said of his impending induction.
“Once Ernie (Els) got in there, I thought this is something I would like to strive for. I thought if I could pull off a few more wins and do some good for the game, I could have a chance. Obviously there's been so many great South Africans that has been inducted.”
Goosen will enter the Hall of Fame officially at a ceremony on Monday, June 10, 2019 to be held in Carmel ahead of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Retief Goosen's near ace at 2009 TOUR Championship
Joining him will be four other extremely worthy inductees.
Australian Jan Stephenson enters in the Female Competitor category while Americans Peggy Kirk Bell, Dennis Walters and Billy Payne join via Lifetime Achievement.
Kirk Bell, who was a charter member of the LPGA and was a renowned golf instructor, will be inducted on a posthumous basis.
Stephenson was notoriously known as one of the LPGA’s first pinup girls, doing whatever it took to get attention focused on her sport.
At one stage she was dating Donald Trump, a pathway that it turns out could have taken her to the White House rather than the Hall of Fame.
“Somebody asked him that when we were playing golf and he said, “We would have already been divorced by now.” He answered that I guess. I guess everybody asks now that it's become public … life would have been so different,” she mused.
“I try to imagine what it would have been like, because I had said to him -- I wouldn't have been able to play golf. He said, "Well, you could have been the club champion at Winged Foot.”
“I don't think I would have got in the Hall of Fame. I can say that to him now.”
But it wasn’t all about celebrity for Stephenson.
She turned plenty of heads with her golf also, winning 20 times professionally including three major championships.
In more recent times Stephenson has continued the growth of the game as one of the founders of the Women’s Senior Golf Tour.
Stephenson was also honored with the Order of Australia Medal in 2018 for her contributions to the game.
She was tearful when she heard because she thought she’d missed out.
“I'm so emotional. I was crying when Nancy Lopez called me yesterday because I knew she was going to tell me I didn't make it again, and I didn't hear her when she said I made it,” Stephenson admitted.
“Because when she started the conversation the same way two years ago, she said, "I know you've worked so hard for the LPGA but you didn't make it."
“So she started exactly the same way yesterday, "I know you've worked really hard" and so I started crying. And then she said, "But this time you've been recognized and you've made it."
“I've been crying, goosebumps, couldn't sleep. It was like winning the U.S. Open all over again.”
Payne is the former Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club (2006-2017) where, during his tenure, significant advancements took place.
Under his leadership there was the introduction of female members into the club’s membership; the spawning of the Drive, Chip & Putt National Championship with the USGA and PGA of America and the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Amateur and Latin America Amateur tournaments, each offering guaranteed Masters’ spots to the winners.
Payne was also a main driver for golf's return to the Olympic Games.
Walters is an elite golfer who was paralyzed from the waist-down at the age of 24 following a golf cart accident.
He has since dedicated his career to sharing life lessons and inspiring fans and disabled golfers of all ages through golf clinics and special performances at more than 3,000 worldwide appearances.
Walters is one of only 11 honorary lifetime members of the PGA of America and he was honored with the 1978 Ben Hogan Award and was a 2018 recipient of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award.
These five Inductees will bring the total number of World Golf Hall of Fame Members to 160.
“The 2019 Induction Class is one of the most well-rounded groups we’ve had to date,” Jack Peter, President of the World Golf Hall of Fame, said.
The Class of 2019 was elected by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Commission, which debated a group of 15 finalists. The Inductees each passed the required 75 percent voting threshold – approval by at least 12 of the 16 members.
The Selection Commission was Co-Chaired by Hall of Fame Members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam and included the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.
The finalists were vetted by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee vetted every candidate that met the qualifications of the Hall of Fame’s four Induction categories.