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April 22, 2004

Isao Aoki

Tom Kite

Charlie Sifford

Marlene Stewart Streit

MODERATOR: I'd like to thank Liberty Mutual, Ted Kelly and Steve Sullivan for being our host today and staging the tournament this year. They have been terrific. Also, the tournament staff for helping us put this together. There's a couple of people I want to recognize in the front row, some special guests, Mr. Steven Ross is here. He is the executive director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association. Thank you for being here. Carol Semple Thompson is paying us a visit today. Carol is one of the leading U.S. Amateurs and took time out of her schedule to be here. Thank you. The mission of the Hall of Fame is to recognize and celebrate the greatest players and contributors of the sport and to be an inspiration to golfers and fans worldwide. Joining me today and joining us today in support of this announcement are truly some of the greatest players of all time. Players who are not only great champions, but players who have provided inspiration to legions of fans around the world; and combined, they have won more than 300 tournaments worldwide, including 23 major championships. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Hall of Fame members Hale Irwin, Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino and our player ambassadors, Carol Mann, Ben Crenshaw and of course the Hall of Fame's global ambassador, Gary Player. Thanks to each of you for being with us today. (Applause). This year's induction ceremony will be held on Monday November 15, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the original class in 1974. The ceremony again coincides with the annual Golf 20/20 Conference, and we hope all of you will be able to attend. I'd like to introduce the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR and Chairman of the World Golf Foundation, Tim Finchem.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Thank you, Jack. Jack Peter is doing a fine job in managing the affairs of the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame currently has 100 members, and we are pleased to announce today that this November there will be four deserving individuals added and inducted who have now been selected for that induction. I would like to ask these four individuals, the 2004 class of inductees, to come up and be seated all at the same time as I introduce them for those listeners on the telephone. First of all, elected on the PGA TOUR ballot is Tom Kite. Tom won 19 times on the PGA TOUR, including the 1992 U.S. Open, and 1989 PLAYERS Championship. He has six Champions Tour victories thus far, including the 2000 Tradition. Elected on the international ballot, Isao Aoki, who won 73 times worldwide including 56 on his home circuit in Japan. He's the only Japanese player to have won on six different tours, and Mr. Aoki will be the second Japanese member of the Hall of Fame because Chako Higuchi was inducted last year. Our third inductee is Charlie Sifford, selected in the lifetime achievement category. Charlie was the first African American to play full-time on the PGA TOUR. He was instrumental in breaking the race barrier in professional golf. He won two PGA TOUR events, a Champions Tour event and a Senior PGA Championship; and those two PGA TOUR events came after he was allowed to play late, very late in life for a rookie. He was an original member of the Champion's Tour when it was formed some 25 years ago. Lastly, selected in the veteran's category is Marlene Stewart Streit. She had an amateur career spanning six decades with at least one major victory in each of those six decades, including last year's U.S. Senior Women's Amateur. She won the Canadian, the U.S., the British and the Australian Amateur Championships. She is the first Canadian to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I want to congratulate all four of the to-be inductees for this November, and last, I'd like to ask each of them to say a few words and their reaction to their pending introduction, starting with Tom Kite.

TOM KITE: Well, Tim, obviously, I'm very, very pleased with this. This has been a long time dream, and the hope of getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. I'm just so excited. To be able to put my name up there with a very short list, with to join these ladies and gentlemen down here to my right, it's just quite a thrill and I'm very, very pleased to be able to add my game to it.

ISAO AOKI: This is a big surprise and joy. I am happy and happy -- I have been doing what I love since I started. I want to thank my caddie and talented people like Maruyama who have helped me and are doing great on the PGA TOUR. I hope that I will somehow acknowledge by the great accomplishments. Also, I would like to thank you who have all saluted me especially my wife, Chi (ph). Without their support, I could not have come this far. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, and again, I am so happy to receive this honor. Thank you very much.

MARLENE STEWART STREIT: I'd like to say I'm speechless, but I would like to say something. I'm very proud, and totally overwhelmed and surprised to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I've played golf all my life for the love of the game. I love to give back to the game and the young people in Canada, and this is a -- this is very huge for Canada. I'm just proud. My greatest thrill in golf has been playing for my country. I have had a chance to win a tournaments, and this is huge. And I thank my family for all of their support always and for all of my friends in Canada and the press and everyone else who have done so much. I thank my husband; that I wish he was here today, but he left me a dime on the sidewalk, which he always gave me before he a tournament. So I think he's right here beside me today. Thank you.

CHARLIE SIFFORD: I want to thank everyone, especially the Commissioner and everyone who had anything to do with this wonderful -- this is very wonderful. Something that I was trying to do for years to do, and I thank all of these wonderful players to my right for accepting me down through all of these years. I know I had some bad days and some tough days, but like everything, it worked out just fine. Only thing missing, I wish Miss Rose was here. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll open up the floor for questions now.

Q. Can you talk about what it means to Canada to be the first Canadian inductee?

MARLENE STEWART STREIT: It is huge for Canada, and to be the first Canadian inductee to this Hall of Fame is a very great honor for me. I just hope I can live up to it all.

Q. Will there be any kind of celebration?


Q. After all of these years what was your initial reaction when you first found out that you were getting in?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: Well, I really thought he was kidding when the Commissioner called me. (Laughs) I didn't know how to take it until he came back and told me the real thing. He says, "Well, Charlie, we are going to induct you into the Hall of Fame." So I guess I lost about the rest of my hair. (Laughter.) But it's a wonderful honor, one that I've been waiting for for a long time. I think I did a good job. I ain't nobody but myself, but really it is a pleasure to be in the presence of all of these great players, the Trevinos and the Palmers and the Nicklaus' and the Players. It's just a blessing.

Q. You had a pretty long and distinguished career and the major didn't come easy for you, looking back on it, did the experience of trying to win that tournament help you in the long run and is it any -- do you enjoy being thought of as really kind of a workman like player who had to -- nothing came really super easy?

TOM KITE: I was very fortunate to grow up under the great guidance of Harvey Penick, and also, to have some of the best competition around. When you have some of the greatest competition in the world, and this gentlemen right down there to my right, certainly the best player, best amateur player at the time, best collegiate player. And going head-to-head against Ben on a daily, weekly, monthly basis; and then you have a wonderful teacher in Harvey Penick, you think that it would really come easy. But the game never really came all that easy to me. It still doesn't. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Fortunately I enjoy that aspect of it. I enjoy spending the time and the journey of trying to get this game to be a little bit easier on a day-in, day-out basis. But it always has been a little bit of a challenge, and yet, I've always enjoyed that aspect of it. To finally get the win, well, the first one, finally get the win at THE PLAYERS Championship, that was the biggest tournament that I'd won at the time and that was a huge step. A couple years later, to win the U.S. Open, that was sweet. You know, it had probably gotten to the point where a lot of people that followed my career had kind of given up on the possibility of me winning a major championship. Thank goodness I hadn't given up on that hope and that dream, and it came true.

Q. Charlie and Marlene, when you look at the impact of Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam far as inclusion, do you think the game has come as far as you would have hoped; has it progressed as you had hoped it would?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: Well, I don't think anybody imagined the game was going with what Tiger Woods did for the game. I think he did a wonderful job and I think he conducted his self perfect. That's a tough life he's going through out there, and I don't think I would want that life, because really, the young man can't go anywhere by his self. He can't go in the public. I think he did a wonderful job. He's not playing too good now, but you can't count him out. He'll be back.

MARLENE STEWART STREIT: And Annika and certainly brought the game to another level, that's for sure. She's in a class by herself up there at the moment. I guess we wait to see how long that will be. I think she'll be at the top of the heap as long as she wants to play.

Q. I think you had said often before that you never felt any different after winning a major; do you think that you might feel different now, having a Hall of Famer put in front of your name?

TOM KITE: I held different after winning the U.S. Open. There's no question about that. I didn't want it to adversely change my life. I was very happy with the way my lifestyle was, the family relationship that I had worked hard to establish, and Charlie eluded to it with all of the things that Tiger is going through, after I won the Open, I didn't want to ever get -- well no, where close to that, but even to have it change my lifestyle a lot. So I worked hard to maintain a little bit of the equilibrium, if you will, in my life. But there's no question, once you win a major championship, the way you think about yourself and the way other people think about you, especially the people that you go head-to-head with on a weekly basis, their attitudes toward you changes an awful lot. You just have that little bit more respect and certainly that grows as time goes on, just by winning the majors.

Q. Just wondering, many times when Harvey had you and Ben out there working and dispensing wisdom and everything, you're the final piece in the puzzle in the Hall of Fame in that group, is that something that you will remember from now to November and on that day joining Ben and Harvey?

TOM KITE: Believe me, when Ben and Harvey got inducted two years ago there, was nobody in Austin, there was nobody more proud for those two people than I was. You know, it was a wonderful, wonderful thing for Texas golf, wonderful happening for everybody that had known Mr. Penick and had known Ben. In my opinion, those two people have done so much for the game and handled themselves so perfectly throughout their lives that to be able to just follow in their footsteps is incredible. When Ben and Mr. Penick got inducted two years ago, I was -- you know in the back of my mind I was sitting there thinking, gosh, I would give anything to have my name put on that list with them, and here, it is going to happen. So I am very pleased.

Q. What kept you going in those years when you were told you couldn't play and all of the things you faced what was it that kept you going?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, there's so many great players, I've been around them for 25, 30 years, and I've been up in there. These are great guys. As long as I've been on the Tour, all of them have treated me as I was one of those. I didn't have the game that they had, but I had the determination. I wanted to be in the Hall of Fame, that's what I started out to be, and I'm so proud they selected me and gave me this honor. This is a great honor and one I will never -- in 82 years. Can't ask for too much more. (Laughter.)

Q. I wondered if in Japan, pros are considered celebrities like they are here; do you have a following there?

ISAO AOKI: In Japan -- golf is not famous in Japan yet, but I'm just happy this year.

Q. Charlie, it's been a while since Rose died and since you were the pro at Sleepy Hollow, but what's she thinking right now?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: Well, if it wasn't for Rose ...

Q. She was as much a part of this as you were, wasn't she?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: You know, you're seeing an 82-year-old man cry, right from my heart.

Q. I didn't quite hear what you said about the dime that your husband used to give to you, and I just wanted to ask you, you're a humble person and you look around at these names, wondering how you feel and if you pinch yourself about belonging in this company?

MARLENE STEWART STREIT: Well, yes, to have my name along with everyone now that's in there now 100; this is 104. That's not very many people for all the great players and wonderful people we have involved in golf and in the world. I'm just totally overwhelmed to have my name along with all of these. The story about the dime was -- by the way I'm grateful to have Steven here. Steven nominated me for the Hall of Fame and made a special trip to be down here today. And Carol Semple Thompson, who played terrible yesterday and we lost our match in a tournament -- (Laughter.) -- so her penance was that she had to come here today, which I'm grateful for. The story about the dime is Steven and I just walked out for a little while to watch the fellows finish on 18, and as we were walking back, there was a shining dime sitting on the sidewalk. Well, for years, my husband has always given me a dime as I went out to play golf. We used to mark our balls with a dime. I don't know if anybody is old enough to remember that. And so he'd give me a dime and say this was for good luck. So, I mean, I just -- that was pretty overwhelming when I saw that shining dime. So I told Steven the story. He said, you know, he's here, and it's these little things, so, I'm grateful I could pick up on that today. Earlier somebody asked me if I thought Canada would do anything or there would be any plans in Canada. Yes, I think there is something in the cooker. Steven sort of had me set out a date.

Q. Texas has produced a long list of great players from Hogan and Nelson to Trevino and you and Ben. I'm wondering, when you were growing up, were there any Texas Legends that you drew inspiration from?

TOM KITE: Every one of those that you named, and the list goes on and on. There's so many guys that came out of Texas, and I truly believe that a lot of the success that the players have had on the PGA TOUR is a result of growing up in Texas because the conditions are not always perfect: The wind does blow; it will rain; the golf courses are not always as lush as you would like them to be. They tend to bake out from time to time from the hot Texas sun, and you learn how to hit a few shots. I think growing up in those adverse conditions or in those difficult conditions really helps. And then we have this wonderful legacy that is a tremendous list of names of great players and great teachers that have come out of Texas: Hogan, Nelson, Trevino, Jackie Burke. Jackie Burke Senior is a teacher. Harvey Penick is a teacher. The list goes on and on. I know I'll forget some without a list in front of me. It's just absolutely fantastic when you start naming those and gives you great inspiration to follow in their footsteps.

Q. Charlie, curious what you consider to be your greatest achievement in golf?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: My greatest achievement when I first won my first tournament in 1967 in Hartford Connecticut, Wethersfield Country Club.

Q. If were you addressing 14- or 15-year-old kids in Canada today who were playing a bunch of different sports and thinking of focusing on one, what would you say to them about why they should pick golf?

MARLENE STEWART STREIT: Well, I think No. 1, golf is a game for a lifetime. Everyone sitting here can attest to that. Right, Charlie?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: That's right. (Laughter.)

MARLENE STEWART STREIT: And I think the game of golf just gives you lots of lessons in life. You're out there playing by yourself. If you want to cheat, you cheat; you don't cheat yourself. You learn how to respect others. It's a great game. I would encourage anybody to -- well, no, I wouldn't encourage them to change their sport, but anybody who wants to play golf, I would like to see their families encourage them to that. I think it's a wonderful game and a teacher in just so many ways for life.

Q. How do you see this impacting you and your life going forward and inspiring other young, talented, black players?

CHARLIE SIFFORD: I'm not sure, quite a few African American young kids, because they wanted to play golf and that was my primary reason for being out there, trying to explain to them that to begin with, we had to be honest and I think it's the greatest game, and I don't have to think, I know it's the greatest game in the world. You don't have to be the greatest player in the world to meet great people and see great players. I have been around some great players all my life, and I very much appreciate how they treated me, and I'm quite sure that we have some African American young players coming up soon sometime.

End of FastScripts...

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