Couples, Montgomerie among 5 inducted to hall

About the only thing Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie had in
common was a golf swing good enough to trust for a lifetime.

Couples became the first American to reach No. 1 in the world
and won the Masters by a blade of grass that kept his ball from
trickling into Rae’s Creek. Montgomerie found fame on the European
Tour, where he won the Order of Merit a record seven times in a
row, though he never won a major, a glaring hole in his
credentials.

Couples sauntered down the fairways, the essence of cool.
Montgomerie walked with his head down, so intense he never looked
like he was having much fun.

They shared the stage Monday night when both were inducted into
the World Golf Hall of Fame, along with three others in the Class
of 2013. The others were former U.S. Open champion and broadcaster
Ken Venturi, former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield
and two-time British Open champion and architect Willie Park
Jr.

That brings the Hall of Fame to 146 members.

Couples talked about his childhood in Seattle, when his mother
gave him $5 a day in the summer to play at Jefferson Park. He
couldn’t afford to buy a glove, and Couples still plays without
one. He got choked up when he mentioned watching a PGA Tour player
to put on a clinic in town when Couples was 14.

”I wasn’t really the person who said, `That’s what I want to
do, I’m going to be a PGA Tour player.’ But I knew I wanted to
really, really get involved in golf,” Couples said. ”And the
gentleman’s name was Lee Trevino, who has been a mentor and someone
I love.”

Couples didn’t look at his notes or used the teleprompter in the
back of the room. He rambled at times, as he always does, talking
about his journey from Seattle to the University of Houston, where
he first met CBS announcer Jim Nantz, turned pro and won 15 times,
including that 1992 Masters and the green jacket ceremony in Butler
Cabin with Nantz. They had rehearsed that moment in college.

He was overcome with emotion at the end of the night, reading
two sentences from a piece of paper.

”Thanks for taking a kid from Seattle and putting him in the
Hall of Fame,” Couples said as his chin buckled. ”This is the
coolest night of my life.”

He walked off the stage in tears, thrusting both arms in the
air.

The election of this year’s class was not without some
debate.

Couples was elected on the PGA Tour ballot ahead of Mark O’Meara
and Davis Love III, both of whom either won more tournaments or
more majors. Couples received only 51 percent of the vote, a record
low for the PGA Tour ballot. It takes 65 percent to get elected,
though there is a loophole that if no one gets 65 percent, one
player is elected provided he receives at least 50 percent.

Montgomerie won 31 times on the European Tour, the most of any
British player, and he was a stalwart in the Ryder Cup. The Scot
played in eight of them and never lost in singles (6-0-2) while
competing on six winning teams. He also was the winning captain in
Wales in 2010.

He never won on the biggest stage, however. Montgomerie lost the
1994 U.S. Open and the 1995 PGA Championship in a playoff. He was
second to Ernie Els again in the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional.
And the most painful of all came in 2006 at Winged Foot, when he
made double bogey from the middle of the 18th fairway and finished
one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.

”That’s the one that hurts,” Montgomerie said of Winged Foot,
noting another Hall of Fame member, Phil Mickelson, also made
double bogey on the 18th. ”The four or five others, really,
somebody happened to beat me. The 2006 Winged Foot, I beat myself.
And that’s where it hurts most. So that has taken the most to
recover from.”

Montgomerie is the fourth player in the last four years to be
inducted into the Hall of Fame without having won a major. The
others were Jumbo Ozaki, Jock Hutchison and Christy O’Connor Sr. A
fifth would be Peter Alliss, who won 23 times on the European Tour,
though he was recognized more for his work with the BBC.

”I’ve enjoyed thoroughly my exploits in major championships,”
Montgomerie said. ”I just haven’t been fortunate, or whatever it
takes. I’ve never, ever stood up and made a winner’s speech and
said I was unlucky. Never. I never will. There’s always a time
where a bit of fortunate comes your way, whether it be for you or
against your opponent at the time, and it just so happens that I
just haven’t been so-called fortunate to walk through the door. The
door has been ajar many a time. I just haven’t been able to walk
through it.

”So at the same time, if you’re talking about regrets of any
part of my golfing career, I have none. Absolutely none,” he said.
”I’ve done exactly what I’ve tried to do. I’ve tried 100 percent
on every shot, and sometimes it works and sometimes it
doesn’t.”

Montgomerie also received 51 percent of the vote on the
International ballot.

Venturi was a premier amateur out of San Francisco, leading the
1956 Masters until an 80 in the final round. Venturi captured the
1964 U.S. Open at Congressional, in such stifling heat that he
suffered from severe dehydration and nearly collapsed before he
finished. When carpal tunnel syndrome ended his career, he moved to
the broadcast booth and enjoyed 35 years of distinguished service
to CBS Sports.

Venturi later became Presidents Cup captain in 2000.

He has been hospitalized in Palm Springs, Calif., for the last
two months and could not attend the ceremony. Nantz accepted on his
behalf, and then brought out on Venturi’s two sons, Matt and Tim,
saying, ”We need to put the crystal in the hands of the Venturi
family. We need the fingerprints on the crystal.”

Schofield, also selected through Lifetime Achievement, was head
of the European Tour from 1975 to 2004. He rode the presence of
Europe’s ”Big Five” – Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard
Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam – to get the tour onto a global
stage. The tour went from 17 events when he started to 45 events
when he retired. He also paved the way for the tour to go beyond
continental Europe, and to include the continent in the Ryder
Cup.

Park joins his father in the Hall of Fame, and the son probably
should have been enshrined already. He won the British Open in 1887
and 1889, and then broadened his influence on golf by building
clubs, golf courses and writing. His book in 1896, ”The Game of
Golf,” was the first written by a golf professional. He later
wrote ”The Art of Putting” that was published in 1920.

Among the golf courses he built were the Old Course at
Sunningdale outside London, Maidstone on Long Island in New York
and Olympia Fields outside Chicago.