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.