Colin Montgomerie called it a "wonderful surprise" that he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
For the rest of the golf world, it simply seems it was about time for the eight-time winner of the Harry Vardon Trophy to be selected.
Montgomerie, elected through the International Ballot, will be joined by Ken Schofield, who was also selected on Tuesday, through the Lifetime Achievement category.
Montgomerie and Schofield are the final inductees for the 2013 class, joining Fred Couples, Willie Park Jr. and Ken Venturi. The induction ceremony is slated for May 6, 2013 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., kicking off Players Championship week.
“This is a very special day for golf and for The European Tour,” European Tour CEO George O’Grady said. “Colin and Ken are unique individuals and their contribution to not only The European Tour, on and off the fairways, but also The Ryder Cup makes them both very worthy candidates for the World Golf Hall of Fame."
The Harry Vardon Trophy is given to the European Tour money leader.
“Colin’s achievement in winning the Harry Vardon Trophy eight times, including seven in a row, took considerable talent, skill, imagination, endurance, physical strength and mental resilience. Any aspiring and ambitious golfer on the European Tour today craves the opportunity to win The Race to Dubai, which has succeeded the Order of Merit, just once — to do it eight times is universally viewed as a superhuman feat.
“Colin became European No. 1 for the eighth time in 2005 which, coincidentally, was the year I succeeded Ken. Unquestionably, Ken’s contribution to The European Tour is incalculable. His vision, passion and reservoir of knowledge established the foundations that we enjoy today and, like Colin, he has enthusiastically supported and taken enormous joy from Europe’s recent triumphs in The Ryder Cup.”
Many of golf’s governing bodies weighed in on both selections.
"Ken and Colin are truly worthy of induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “These two men played huge roles in golf’s international development in the late 20th century. Ken provided more opportunities for top players to compete around the world, while Colin took advantage of these opportunities and set an unmatched standard of prolonged excellence on The European Tour."
Said PGA Tour commissioner: “Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield are outstanding ambassadors of the game. Each has made vital contributions to golf’s global expansion. Colin’s achievements on The European Tour and the Ryder Cup have gained him fans worldwide, while Ken’s tireless work during his time at The European Tour created new innovations and tremendous international growth. Congratulations to both Colin and Ken on this well-deserved honor.”
Montgomerie made eight consecutive Ryder Cup appearances, starting in 1991, and compiled a 6-0-2 singles record. He also captained the 2010 Ryder Cup squad at Celtic Manor.
“It is a wonderful surprise to hear that I will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next year,” Montgomerie said. “I know I am very fortunate to have enjoyed such a successful career playing the game I love and it makes me feel very proud that my achievements have been recognized in this way.
"While my eight Order of Merit wins were very special, as everyone knows my Ryder Cup experiences have provided the very best moments in my career and receiving this great honor is the icing on the cake. I am delighted that my dear friend Ken Schofield’s notable contribution to European golf will also be recognized at next year’s ceremony, and I look forward to sharing this special occasion with him.”
Schofield became first secretary and executive director of the European Tour on Jan. 1, 1975, succeeding John Jacobs. Under his guidance the tour schedule grew from 17 events to 45 and total prize money leaped from less than $1 million to more than $100 million.
Montgomerie was chosen by voters on 51 percent of the ballots. Graham Marsh was on 34 percent, Ian Woosnam at 21 percent, Padraig Harrington at 19 percent and Retief Goosen at 18 percent.
Montgomerie had 40 career wins but notably failed to win a major. He came tantalizingly close, however, with five runner-up finishes, including three at the US Open.