Laura Davies, Mark O’Meara among 4 for Hall of Fame
Even with more than 70 wins worldwide and four major championships, Laura Davies of England never had a week like this.
Davies was chosen as one of four inductees to the World Golf Hall of Fame. The announcement Wednesday came one day after she was at Buckingham Palace to receive her insignia as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
“I can match the two awards up on a level playing field,” Davies said. “They’re both great honors, something I never thought about 30 years ago when I turned pro.”
Mark O’Meara, who won the Masters and British Open among his 16 PGA Tour wins, two-time major champion David Graham of Australia and golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast also were selected.
The induction ceremony will be at St. Andrews University next year on the Monday of the British Open.
This was the first year that independent golf writers were left out of the voting process. Instead, a committee chose the finalists, and a 16-member committee voted on them. Finalists had to receive at least 12 votes. Golf administrators made up a majority of the committees.
O’Meara had been overlooked in previous voting even though he had a stronger record. Along with a U.S. Amateur title, he became the oldest player (41) to win two majors in one season in 1998 and won tournaments on five continents. He also played on five Ryder Cup teams.
“I was hoping this time was going to come, and fortunately it did,” O’Meara said. “I think all of us realize this is the pinnacle of golf. … As a young person, you have dreams of someday being in the Hall of Fame.”
Davies perhaps was the one inductee who should have been years ago. The LPGA Tour had its own stringent criteria of 27 points — one point for a victory and major award, two points for a major — and the Englishwoman had been stuck on 25 points since 2001. She refused to be considered on the International ballot over the last decade, determined to get in one her own.
Now that the ballots have been eliminated, she was a natural choice.
A powerful player, Davies won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open before she even joined the LPGA Tour. She had 20 wins on the LPGA Tour, and likely could have won more if not for spending so much time on home soil to support the Ladies European Tour.
She received the news from LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.
“Normally when the commissioner is calling you’re in trouble,” Davies said. “I called him back. I went to thinking I was in trouble to the best news ever.”
Graham won the 1979 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills and the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion, where he putted for birdie on every hole in his final round of 67. He is one of four players to win on every continent golf is played.
Graham was never on the International ballot because he did not have enough points with his eight PGA Tour wins, two wins in Europe, one in Japan and eight in Australia.
“It’s been a long time, but good things are worth waiting for,” Graham said.
Tillinghast is regarded as one of golf’s greatest designers, whose work includes Winged Foot, Baltusrol, San Francisco Golf Club and Quaker Ridge.
The other finalists were Johnny Farrell, Max Faulkner, Davis Love III, Graham Marsh and Calvin Peete from men’s golf; Beverly Hanson, Catherine Lacoste, Meg Mallon, Sandra Palmer and Jan Stephenson from women’s golf; and Henry Longhurst and Samuel Ryder from the lifetime achievement category.
Missing from the list of finalists was Ian Woosnam, a former Masters champion and world No. 1 who has 35 world wins.