As the golf world converged on historic St Andrews for the playing of the 144th Open Championship, the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum enshrined its 2015 Induction Class at the University of St Andrews. Bringing the total number of members to 150, the new members include: Dame Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast.
Dame Laura Davies
With 79 victories worldwide and four LPGA Major Championships, Davies is considered by many to be the most successful female British player of all time. Davies has represented Europe a record 12 times in the Solheim Cup, playing in every competition from 1990-2011. She was recently made a Dame by the Queen of England in the 2014 UK honours list for her services to the sport of golf.
Among his 30+ worldwide victories, Graham won the 1979 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club and the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion, making him the first Australian to win two different Major Championships. While Graham’s two biggest wins were on U.S. soil, the Australian is truly an international competitor, joining fellow Hall of Fame members Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer and Gary Player as the only players to win events on six different continents.
O’Meara established himself as one of the game’s greats, when he captured both the Masters and Open Championship in 1998. In the same year, he was also named PGA TOUR Player of the Year. His myriad career highlights go beyond those two victories, starting in 1979 when he won the U.S. Amateur at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland. O’Meara has more than 20 victories worldwide, and has represented the United States in five Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups, while holding 16 PGA TOUR wins.
An admirer of St Andrews and student of Old Tom Morris, Tillinghast used his knowledge to become a true pioneer of American golf. Tillinghast was a prolific architect, having worked on more than 265 different courses. Several of Tillinghast’s designs are still considered among the world’s best, and are used frequently for golf’s Major Championships. In total, his courses have been host to 50 Major Championships. Bethpage State Park, Winged Foot, Baltusrol Golf Club, San Francisco Golf Club, Quaker Ridge and Somerset Hills are all Tillinghast designs.
For the first time, the Induction Ceremony, a biennial event, was staged outside of the United States and televised live on Golf Channel and Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.
“Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Laura, David, Mark and the family of the late A.W.,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the Hall of Fame. “This class represents the global reach of the game and we are pleased to welcome them to the Hall of Fame family. This year’s ceremony was a significant step forward for the World Golf Hall of Fame as we continue to raise the institution’s global profile. We’re grateful for the support of our Board organizations and the University of St Andrews for making this a truly memorable and historic event.”
The 90-minute ceremony, emceed by well-known Sky television personality Di Dougherty, was attended by 21 Hall of Fame members including: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, Peter Thomson and Sandy Lyle among others.
First to receive the Induction Crystal, golf’s highest honour, was Graham. The two-time Major winner was introduced by Hall of Fame global ambassador and friend Gary Player. During his acceptance speech, Graham became overcome with emotion reflecting on his days as a 11-year-old boy in Australia learning the game.
Davies, because of mechanical issues with her plane and other international travel logistics from Philadelphia, where she competed in the U.S. Women’s Open, was unable to attend the ceremony. Former LPGA Commissioner Charlie Mechem introduced the British star and graciously accepted the honour on Davies’ behalf.
Following Davies, Tillinghast, the late golf course architect, was honoured with noted golf journalist John Hopkins on hand to accept the Induction Crystal on behalf of the family.
Last to take the stage was O’Meara, who was introduced by Golf Channel’s Dave Marr. O’Meara, the boy from Southern California, delivered a memorable speech in which he recounted his career accomplishments and significant memories playing the game he loves.
The next Induction Ceremony will take place in 2017 at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, which will be held the Monday of THE PLAYERS Championship week. The Class of 2017 will be announced in 2016.
In 2019, the Induction Ceremony will move to Pebble Beach, Calif., and be staged on Monday of U.S. Open Championship week.
World Golf Hall of Fame www.WorldGolfHallofFame.org