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October 30, 2006
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA
GEORGE LOPEZ: What's happening, everybody? Welcome, everybody. I'm going to pass out. Welcome to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Has anybody been to the Gary Player exhibit? It's unbelievable. You should go there and get one of these jackets that makes me look like a waiter at a Mexican restaurant. If anybody needs any chips, I'm your guy.
Far be it from me to correct the World Golf Hall of Fame, but there are actually four Latinos in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Lee Trevino, Nancy Lopez and Felipe the night janitor (laugher).
Welcome to a great night where we celebrate golf (applause). We celebrate -- I almost didn't make it tonight. I was down at the border helping build the new fence (laughter). I'll be the master of ceremonies, or as President Bush would refer to me, a temporary guest worker. Not my crowd. I still did it anyways. Am I afraid of all white people? I don't think so (laughter). I live in your neighborhood (laughter).
It is a privilege to be part of the 2006 World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony as the stories of five new members join those of the 109 legends of the sport that have come before them, and this year's class come from different eras and represent different chapters in the story of this game.
How is that reading? I went to public school, I want you to know (laughter).
It is always an honor for the Hall of Fame to have its members return and welcome a new class, and we are thrilled to have a number of them here this evening, and it is time for our traditional Hall of Fame member roll call. Are you ready?
Deane Beman, a consummate amateur who became a leading administrator on the PGA TOUR as commissioner from 1974 to 1994. His vision led to the formation of stadium golf, the Nationwide and Champions Tour, and ladies and gentlemen, the World Golf Hall of Famer, a nice round of applause for Deane Beman (applause).
She owns seven national titles, five U.S. Amateurs and two Women's U.S. Opens in addition to 40 our LPGA Tour victories. Say hello to my friend Big Mama JoAnne Carner (applause).
When Beth Daniel was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 she looked forward to the day when Henry Picard would join her and champion his selection. Tonight all of Charleston, South Carolina, is smiling, maybe because of Jack Daniels, but I'm sure they're excited about Beth Daniel (applause).
A winner of two major championships, he played on seven Ryder Cup teams and captained four others. Tony also made a special trip to Ireland this year to open the Hall's Ryder Cup exhibit at the National Museum in Ireland in August. Please welcome Mr. Tony Jacklin (applause).
This LPGA legend continues to bring the game to new heights. She recently gave golf lessons to a very special student, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, so that he will exhibit great form as he hits a golf ball from The International Space Station thanks to Hall of Fame ambassador Carol Mann (applause).
Recognized as golf's most charismatic player, he ignited unprecedented interest in the game during the '60s, he won seven majors and over 80 tournaments in all. Arnold joins Byron Nelson next year as the only PGA TOUR player with namesake tournaments. The King, Arnold Palmer (applause).
One of the game's undisputed great humanitarians of the game, Gary Player's charity golf event which supports initiatives for underprivileged children went over the $5 million mark in just ten years. Please welcome the Hall of Fame's global ambassador, Mr. Gary Player (applause).
Judy Rankin is a two-time LPGA Player of the Year, three-time Vare Trophy winner and USA's Bob Jones Award winner in 2002. Please welcome LPGA winner Judy Rankin (applause).
This year Marlene Stewart Streit celebrated the 50th anniversary of her win in the 1956 U.S. Amateur by playing 18 holes with her partner from that tournament, JoAnne Carner. Please welcome the first Canadian to enter the World Golf Hall of Fame, Ms. Marlene Stewart Streit (applause).
Now let me introduce you to the winningest professional golfer of all time with 88 wins on the LPGA Tour to her credit. Please welcome two-time Solheim Cup captain, Ms. Kathy Whitworth (applause).
Tonight we have three special Hall of Fame members seated in the audience. Following an illustrious career, Judy Bell became the first female president of the USGA. She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Judy Bell (applause).
This LPGA founder was the first female golfer to break 300 in a 72-hole event, which happened to be a little event called the 1947 U.S. Women's Open. Please welcome Betty Jameson (applause).
Louise Suggs is the hall's resident member living right here at the World Golf Village. Louise will receive the 2007 Bob Jones award in February, the USGA's highest award in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship. Please congratulate her and welcome Louise Suggs (applause).
Ladies and gentlemen, let's have a hand for these members of the World Golf Hall of Fame (applause).
Also joining us this evening are members of families of several Hall of Famers. Please welcome Gene Sarazen's daughter and granddaughter, Mary Ann Sarazen and Pam Barnett Ilnicki. A nice round of applause (applause).
Welcome the family of Patty Berg, her niece Susan Johnson (applause).
The grandson of Jim Barnes, Dr. Joseph Manda, III (applause).
I pride myself on the pronunciation of white people's names.
It is a good thing I didn't know our first inductee tonight when she was younger because I love a woman with a personality. She was born in Topeka, Kansas, and is a proud Kansas Jayhawk alum. This lady once thought of golf as a sissy sport, but she became hooked on the game, has never looked back, went on to outstanding professional and amateur careers. She's been an inspiration, conducting over 4,000 clinics around the world since 1949. Let's take a look at the inspirational career of lifetime achievement selection, Ms. Marilynn Smith (applause).
To present Marilynn for the induction is one of the giants of the game of golf, a woman who has won more tournaments than any other professional player in the game. Yes, even more than these two guys right here in the front row. No offense, boys. She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and continues as a member of the Legends Tour, the official Ladies' Senior Tour of the LPGA. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Kathy Whitworth (applause).
KATHY WHITWORTH: Thank you very much. First of all, I just would like to congratulate the other inductees here this evening. It's just so much fun to come here every year and to of course meet all the other inductees that are here this evening and then to welcome the new ones. They wouldn't be here if they hadn't distinguished themselves in some way, and there's no exception here this evening. I just want to congratulate them, and it's great fun to be here and take part and be a part of their celebration.
It is my pleasure and privilege to present to you this evening Ms. Marilynn Smith for her induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Marilynn Smith. Her contribution to the game, as well as being one of the 13 founders of the LPGA, is well-documented. Had it not been for Marilynn and the other 12 founders, the LPGA would not have happened.
I think I can speak for all of us, the members of the LPGA, when I say thank you very much for giving all of us a chance to have a career in golf.
Of the 13 founders, you've already acknowledged we have two other ladies here or three other ladies here, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Betty Jameson, which is always a treat to see, and then there's Peggy Kirk Bell and Betty Hicks that were here at the beginning, although maybe not considered founders of the LPGA, but I can't tell you what a treat it is to be around these women. They are just extraordinary people, and it's just great fun for me to be able to remember and to think back about what they've done.
Although Patty Berg is no longer with us, I know she had great high regard for Marilynn. In fact, Marilynn was the first recipient of the Patty Berg Distinguished Service Award, and if Patty were here she would be in the front row leading the standing-O for Marilynn.
In the beginning of the LPGA things were not easy. The president was the commissioner and the players had to do all the work. The office and headquarters were in the back of the car. The pressroom was in the parking lot. The locker room was the trunk of the car. Players did the rules, the pairings, set the course, and the treasurer would write the checks on Sunday night. I got my first check by the scoreboard.
But the main responsibility was in the president's hands. She had to negotiate contracts, call sponsors and potential sponsors, make numerous appearances and hold meetings, which at times could be pretty vocal, do most of the public relations, all the while trying to play tournament golf.
The LPGA was fortunate in the early going to have some great players as our president, Patty Berg being the first, Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs and Marilynn Smith. In visiting with different players who were in that era, including myself, all thought Marilynn did an extraordinary job as president and more than anyone contributed greatly to the success of this Tour.
Mickey Wright said she always remembers the hours and hours Marilynn would spend on the phone talking to these sponsors, potential sponsors, the press and anyone else she thought might help the Association. You might say Marilynn always went beyond the call.
In addition to all she was as president, she did manage to win 21 tournaments, including two majors. We will never know how many more tournaments she might have won if all her time had been devoted just to her game.
Marilynn turned pro in 1949 and immediately signed a contract with the Spalding Sporting Goods Company, a relationship that would last 27 years.
In that span, Marilynn would give literally thousands of clinics going all over the United States and the world. This is when Marilynn began to become known as the LPGA Tour's ambassador. Marilynn touched the lives of many a young golfer, two being young Sandra Post and Renee Powell, who credit Marilynn for their decision to become LPGA players.
Many of us always felt that Marilynn put her best foot forward. She was always a lady impeccably dressed, wearing a skirt, usually a sweater and pearl earrings and a pearl necklace. I've got my necklace on tonight, Marilynn, always the necklace. In your honor I wear mine tonight.
Marilynn always had a smile. No matter how things were going you could always depend on a smile from Marilynn. Some even began to call her Smiley. Marilynn was friendly and always gracious.
When I came on Tour in 1959, President Marilyn found time to welcome me and my mother. It meant a lot to me then and still means a lot to me now. She was just great.
'72 turned out to be a very important year. It was the last year Marilynn would win a tournament in the first year for the Colgate Palmolive Dinah Shore Championship. This started an era that some of us refer to as the Colgate years. Not only did Colgate sponsor the Dinah Shore, they took the LPGA around the world. We had tournaments in England, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, just to name a few.
Colgate also asked some of us to do commercials. They asked Marilynn and myself to team up for one. I don't know what they said to Marilynn, but they recommended to me that I keep my day job (laughter). I had great fun, though, and some of the players were quite good. I remember Laura Ball did a toothpaste commercial, and not too bad.
In the '70s Marilyn started slowing down her playing career. However, her support and love for the LPGA and women's golf never slowed. She began to turn her energy toward other venues such as she helped start the LPGA, in the teaching division she now started to look for other ways to promote the game.
In '73 Marilyn did some TV commentating for the Dinah Shore, the PGA, USA and Colonial. She conducted 15 Marilynn U.S. and International golf tournaments, went to Japan for The International Golf Foundation, organized and conducted the first women's senior golf tournament in Dallas, Texas, in '87, '88 and '89. I was lucky enough to win that first event and am still wearing the beautiful watch given to the winner.
Marilynn was still involved in many charity events from '94 to 2001. She raised money for the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation, she raised money for the Baylor University golf team in '94 and '99, is currently involved with the Marilynn Smith EWGA Classic benefiting the Marilynn Smith Scholarship and LPGA Girls' Golf.
As you can see, Marilynn is tireless in promoting the game. She is the Energizer Bunny. A quote from Mark Johnson, the Dallas Morning News, "Though she made some money and won some trophies, what she gave is more than what she took."
In 1999 Frank Luksa of the Dallas Morning News wrote that "The LPGA should reach into its history, find its pioneers and pay tribute to them while they are still here and can bask in the applause." And so with your applause, please help me in welcoming Marilynn Smith to the World Golf Hall of Fame (applause).
Marilynn, you do remember that commercial we did in 1970?
MARILYNN SMITH: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I've lost my knees, and in about ten minutes you're probably going to wonder if I've lost my memory, too. But I would like to send blessings or say some blessings for Patty Berg and Byron Nelson. We miss them. Special prayers for Mickey Wright, who is battling breast cancer, and she's doing great.
Louise Solheim called about an hour ago and sorry she couldn't make it here. She sends her best to you and her love, and what a great company, what they've done for golf is fantastic.
This is a great event not only for me but for the Ladies' PGA. I must say, this is the greatest moment in my life except maybe when I found out that I had a baby sister.
Well, my heart is pounding like I was ready to tee off in the U.S. Women's Open. Judy Bell, where are you (laughter)? This is the toughest speech I've ever tried to make.
When I received a phone call from Jack Peter and Carol Mann that I had been selected for entrance into the World Golf Hall of Fame, I was surprised, overwhelmed, humbled and very grateful. At this stage of my life, this is a very incredible gift. To join the 109 players and contributors that are in the World Golf Hall of Fame is beyond my wildest dream. I want to give my deepest thanks to the selection committee for bestowing this honor on me, and I want to congratulate the other inductees and their families. I'm happy for you.
I'm thrilled to join my friend and fellow Kansasian Judy Bell in this prestigious Hall of Fame. We're proud of Judy and all she's done for golf. I want to salute Betty Hicks, who in 1944 helped organize the Women's PGA, which is a forerunner of the LPGA.
Many people have influenced my life, and it would take too long to mention them all. But those of you who are out there in the audience, you know who you are, and I appreciate you.
I wanted to thank special thanks to my friend Kathy Whitworth, for whom I have the greatest respect. She's given so much back to the game.
And I want to pay real deep thanks to two great gals, Renee Powell and Sandra Post, who went to bat for me and made this evening real possible for me. I met little Sandy when she was just five years old, chubby face, cute little gal with her family from Canada, just a marvelous family and her husband; and Renee Powell and her family up in East Canton, Ohio, that have that beautiful golf course, and I owe them a lot. They really went to bat for me and I really appreciate it. I love you girls.
During my career many people have coached and counseled me in numerous ways, and they have included Shirley Spork who's here tonight and Gardner Dickinson, whose wife Judy is here in attendance, and a special thanks to my baby sister and her husband Cliff, the other members of my family, and the many friends who have come great distances like Liz Conn, who flew all the way from London to be here on this momentous occasion.
Now I'm supposed to pause and breathe a little better.
I'm just an ordinary girl from the Kansas prairie who has lived an extraordinary life, and golf has made it possible for me to travel to all 50 States, 36 countries to meet five presidents, and I've been privileged to play golf with my two idols, Stan Musial and Ben Hogan, and also Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Bing Crosby, and of course The Babe, Louise Suggs, Betty Jameson and Patty Berg. How blessed can one get?
As a youngster my ambition was to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals, and when I was 10, 11 and 12 I had a boys' baseball team. I was the pitcher, the coach and the manager, and I came home from pitching one day and I had my baseball suit and my pigtails were flying and my mother said in her sweet voice, "Well, how did you do today, Dear?" I took my mitt off and I threw it against the wall and I said a four-letter word beginning with S that I had picked up from the boys.
When my dad came home from work she told him what I had said, and he said, "Well, we'd better take her out to the Wichita Country Club and teach her a more ladylike sport. That's where I met Mike Murra, my first pro who took me under his wing, and in those days there wasn't much encouragement for a girl to take up golf.
As Mr. Lopez said, I thought it was a sissy game at first, you hit a ball and then chase after it. What's to that? Mike with his tough and yet very gentle manner instilled a deep respect and love for the game to this young gal, and I was so lucky to have Mike Murra as my first pro, and I think Judy Bell took a lot of lessons from him, too. He was just an amazing person.
While attending the University of Kansas, there was no girls' golf team, my dad asked Paul Gowan, he was the director of athletics, if he could get some expense money for his daughter to play in the national intercollegiate golf tournament which was at Ohio State University, and he said, "Mr. Smith, it's too bad your daughter is not a boy." So there wasn't much encouragement in those days for gals, but I was lucky that I had a dad who could help me.
Like Kathy had, I had 27 one-year contracts with Spalding, and that company provided me an opportunity to conduct golf clinics in places in the world such as South America and Germany and England, Philippines, Canada and Australia and New Zealand. And in New Zealand I met a young 12-year-old girl with the unlikely name of Marilyn, with one N, Smith, and she told her dad after the clinic, he was a golf pro, he taught her, that someday she'd like to play on the LPGA Tour. And sure enough, ten years later, she played on the Tour as M.J. Smith because the older Marilynn, with two Ns, was still playing the Tour. I don't know if M.J. is here tonight, but she's a great gal. She's a great teacher.
In my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, way back in 1950, I joined an extraordinary group of young women to help make the Ladies' PGA what it is today, the top women's sports organization in the world. I'm so proud of the organization.
Each of the 13 founders came from various parts of the country, each of us was different, each of us has different golf swings. I remember Alice Bauer, one of the famous Bauer sisters, her backswing was so long that the club head almost hit the ground on the backswing. But she had great tempo and timing, and she was a real fine player, and we miss her.
Most of us couldn't afford air travel, so we drove, sometimes great distances like from Spokane, Washington, to Waterloo, Iowa, a distance of 1,600 miles. And my father asked Shirley Spork, another founder of the LPGA, to not let me go over the speed limit. So not wanting to betray a trust, she put tape over the speedometer (laughter), so she wouldn't know how fast I was going. We had a lot of fun in those days.
Like Kathy said, we faced tremendous physical challenges at first, and I remember to get some attention to try to get the people come out and watch us play, we would hit golf balls in major league ball parks. We'd go to St. Louis, Cincinnati, Washington, and we'd hit balls from home plate out to center field and then we'd get on the mike and say, fans, come out and watch us play. The girls are going to play a tournament near the ballpark here.
And then we'd -- this is a terrible story (laughter). Shirley Spork and I went to a boxing match. They were boxing, I think, in Washington, D.C., and the tournament was the U.S. Open at St. Georges. We went to the boxing match and it was a brutal battle, a lot of --
Anyway, when it came time for us to come up in the ring, I felt faint and I was shaking and I couldn't do it. But Shirley, boy, she's strength of character, she climbs through the ropes onto the canvas, takes the mike and starts talking to the fans about coming out to St. Georges to see us play. So we did a lot of things like that to try to get interest for the LPGA and the players.
We also played the courses long, 6,250 to 6,950. One of the reasons was Babe Zaharias, Olympic champion, was our marquee player and our biggest gallery draw and she wanted the tees as far back as possible. Some tournaments didn't want the tees up, either. I can remember the Concord Hotel, we played 6,950, and it rained the night before the round started, and Shirley Englehorn I think had 77, 76, 76 on in a long course with heavy grass, and it was a famous -- well, anyway, in the '60s we decided to move the tees a little bit closer to try to get the scores a little lower.
But I remember one time Louise Suggs in Chicago with the wind blowing 60 miles an hour steady shot a 78, and that was fantastic. I think Louise with clubs today the way the technology has changed you probably would have had a 68.
We were struggling in those days to keep the Tour going, but we knew we needed to recognize the teachers. So in 1959 the organization voted to organize a teaching division, and I have to tell you, that motion passed by just one vote. But they had they have become a very integral part of the Ladies' PGA and I think today there are over 1,200 members in the ladies teaching and club profession, NNCP, and I believe the president or the education director is here tonight, Dr. Betsy Clark, and we appreciate you.
It's amazing when you stop and think -- I'm about through (laughter). He said seven minutes and I think I've been longer.
When you stop and think about 1950, in 13 tournaments our total prize money was $50,000, and in 1959 it was $213,700, which we thought was great. We were making progress. And this year the girls are playing for about $50 million. So you see the tremendous progress that's been made on the Tour (applause).
Particularly dear to my heart were the smaller towns who actively supported the LPGA in the early days, towns like Waco and Rockton and Carrollton, Georgia, where Louise's father was pro and owner of a nine-hole course. We played that twice, 18 holes (laughter). Other courses like Ashville and Gatlinburg, and these special people brought out a brand of hospitality that really helped us to grow and prosper. They took a chance with us, but they were just marvelous.
What a fantastic journey this has been for me to be a part of the process of the change in women's golf. I'm so honored to be among those in the World Golf Hall of Fame. I can't tell you how happy I am tonight.
Family, friends and events have made up the story of my life, and I am blessed to have many good friends, many of whom are here tonight. God bless you all, and thanks a million. I love you (applause).
GEORGE LOPEZ: Thank you, Ms. Smith. That's one of the reasons why I love golf, right there, that's an amazing story.
The family members of the LPGA were quite an amazing group of ladies. In September many of them gathered to celebrate the life and to wish farewell to an amazing lady who for many years was a loyal friend to the Hall of Fame and to the game she loved so much. Let's take a look at the life of Patty Berg.
GEORGE LOPEZ: To say a few words of tribute to this lady, let me introduce a 26-time LPGA Tour winner and winner of the Patty Berg award, Ms. Judy Rankin (applause).
JUDY RANKIN: Well, good evening. I'm very honored to be able to speak a few words about Patty Berg to tell you a little bit about my experiences with Patty Berg. But I think a good place to start is when she was 15 years old.
At 15, Patty had been introduced to golf, and she was quite the competitor. She was a good athlete as a child, could do a lot of things well. So she entered the Minneapolis City Championship. She qualified with a score of 122. That was for 18 holes. She later said she really got lucky, it could have been 140 (laughter).
She lost the next day in the last flight, and because she had been such a good athlete and able to do everything, it set her back a bit, and she wasn't sure about golf.
But she went to her parents and she said, "I am going to spend the next 365 days working on golf and trying to improve and see if I can get where I like this game." She won the Minneapolis City Championship the following year, and the direction of her life began to unfold.
At 5'2", and I would say barely 5'2", I am going to refer to her tonight as the Freckled Persuader. She could always win people over for women's golf. Whether it was her storied amateur career and then her professional career, women's golf and Patty were synonymous, and she could talk anybody into anything, or she could just talk a little louder, which she was good at doing that, too, and get their attention.
But her skill and great record really was overshadowed by everything else that she did so well. You just heard from Marilynn about Patty's involvement in being at the very heart of starting women's professional golf, and eventually the LPGA.
She meant so much to women everywhere. I really think in Patty's case it wasn't just to women but it was to golfers and it was to people. She loved the game and she encouraged people everywhere she went, starting as a very young girl and all the way until the end of her life.
In her lifetime with the Wilson Sporting Goods Company, which I believe started in 1940, she mentored many, many young players. Two of the greats who are in this Hall learned much from Patty Berg, that's Kathy Whitworth and Carol Mann. Kathy says that everything she learned about professionalism came from Patty Berg, and Carol says behind her parents, Patty Berg had more impact on her life and golf life than anyone. They stayed very dear to her until the end of her life.
The most memorable thing for me about Patty Berg was her work with clinics and exhibitions. She was the greatest showperson I have ever seen with a golf club in her hand. She was the most entertaining. She was informative; she was more than funny, she had the gift of timing and physical comedy. She could just swing the golf club around and turn her clothes every which way, and everything she did came off and it came off well.
There is a very long list of recreational golfers and professional players who saw Patty in those clinics and were impacted by seeing her. I am one. I saw her in a clinic on a little course in St. Louis called AAA when I was seven years old.
Another thing that Patty had was an unbelievable memory. When I was seven years old my mother was terminally ill, and I didn't see Patty again until I was 14, and amazing that she would remember my name at all, but the very first thing Patty Berg asked me was how was my mother. She was like that with so many people.
Patty was responsible for I think the greatest PR thing the LPGA Tour ever did, called the LPGA Swing Parade. We would go to tournaments, I came on just a little bit later, but this was in the '60s, and almost every tournament we went to would put on -- we would put on this LPGA Swing Parade, and Patty was the emcee and the host. Now and then when she wasn't there, Marilynn Smith that you just saw took her place.
But as young players, we would go in the locker room that day not knowing who she was going to call on to be part of the clinic, and eventually there would be about 15 people lined up. So there would be a list on the wall in the locker room, and if your name was there, there would be a club alongside of it, like Judy Rankin, 4-wood.
Now, it really didn't matter if you had a date with your great grandmother or with a movie star. You called and cancelled and you showed up at Patty's clinic. It was that important.
These clinics went on with the LPGA for nearly two decades, and I can't think of anything the LPGA ever did better, and that was mostly totally due to Patty Berg.
We would go sit at these clinics, and we heard these stories before because we heard it last week, but the fact was the delivery was so perfect that you could not help but laugh every time. It was a great experience.
I remember very distinctly she'd turn her visor to the left and she would look at people and say, "If you want to hit a hook, you have to think hook." Now, it didn't make so much sense to me at the time. It makes a lot more sense now because I now realize if you can't think hook, you can't see it, and if you can't think it, you can't see it and you can't do it. It was great lessons in many, many things.
If you didn't get what she was saying, and also I would tell you she just said it a little bit louder.
The LPGA honors her with the Patty Berg award. It exemplifies diplomacy, sportsmanship, goodwill and contributions to the game. It is a treasured award and has been awarded well over 20 times.
I think if Patty were here tonight, she would say to Marilynn, she would say, "Kid, we've come a long way," and I think she would say to Larry Nelson and Vijay Singh, "You know, you are wonderful players. I have watched your career all the way through, and now just because you're in this Hall of Fame don't think you're finished, you've got to keep playing and you have to keep making people love this game. That's your job now, and what great careers you've had and congratulations, and God bless," she would say (applause).
Patty had an unwavering faith. She loved her family, her friends and people everywhere. She loved the USA. She had been known to say on more than one million occasions, "God bless the USA," and oh, did she promote golf.
In clinics she had a memorable line, with her visor twisted and with a golf club banging on the ground and with the crowd already warmed up and laughing, she would announce, "I'm not overweight, I'm just too short." And I think we all know now, she wasn't too short. She was a giant person. She was a giant voice for this game we love, and we are very fortunate to have been in her company. Thank you (applause).
GEORGE LOPEZ: Thank you, Judy. I have the honor of hosting the Bob Hope tournament in January of 2007, and I have some good news. Vijay Singh has just committed to play in the Bob Hope -- Vijay, thank you so much (laughter). It's news to him. He's shocked.
In honor of that, I will keep the range open 24 hours for you, Vijay (laughter).
Our next guest is a woman who is carrying on the heritage of Patty Berg, Marilynn Smith and the other founders of the LPGA. In the second year as commissioner she's continued to guide the LPGA to new heights of popularity and success. It is my pleasure to introduce Commissioner Carolyn Bivens (applause).
COMMISSIONER CAROLYN BIVENS: Visionary, founder, innovator, pioneer, trailblazer, groundbreaker, all words we hear frequently, but it's very difficult to grasp the magnitude and the dimensions that are contained in the meaning of these labels.
We gather here tonight in the 57th year of the LPGA. It's hard to imagine the depth of the passion for golf which motivated 13 women to form a professional women's golf Tour in 1950. Just to set the stage, in 1950, the average salary was $2,992, the stock market was at 235, a gallon of gas cost 27 cents, a loaf of bread was 14 cents and a stamp cost 3 cents.
And something made 13 women, including Marilynn Smith, think that they could start a women's golf Tour where none existed.
Founders, pioneers, trailblazers, whatever term one chooses to use, these are remarkable people, people who see what can be and are the ones that are just sure they're the ones that are going to make those dreams reality.
Someone once told me that the definition of impossible is something that can't be done until someone does it. These founders of the LPGA figured out the impossible and they gave birth to the longest-running, most successful women's sports organization. How appropriate that one of these founders is being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame tonight for her lifetime of achievement.
You've heard several times tonight, and Judy just mentioned, last month we lost the indomitable Patty Berg, and we already miss her. This is the first gathering that we've all been together since Patty passed away. Just this past Friday Mickey Wright began her fight against breast cancer, that wicked disease that ravages too many women and family.
So while we honor this year's inductees tonight, our thoughts and our prayers are with Patty's family and with Mickey Wright, and we're reminded to celebrate the game's heroes and remember what they've done for the sport, not just once a year but every day.
Now, as remarkable as the creation of the LPGA, it actually is not the most significant accomplishment of the founders. The truly amazing accomplishment is what has evolved from what these women created. The LPGA is now an international Tour, which is recognized as the pinnacle of performance in women's golf around the world.
We have more than 400 players, more than 100 of them who represent 24 different countries outside the United States. We play in ten countries, including our first event in Thailand, which we finished a couple weeks ago.
Our 1,200 teaching and club professionals are among the very best in the world and an integral, important aspect of who and what we are at the LPGA, and again, thanks to Marilynn Smith.
Peel back one more layer from the organization and you find the significant impact the LPGA is having on women. What is developing around the world is about more than just golf.
The most dominant woman golfer in recent history is Annika Sorenstam, who was inspired to specialize in golf after she watched Liselotte Neumann win the U.S. Women's Open. Maybe, just maybe it was possible for a little girl from a snowy country to make a living playing golf.
Then we had Hisako Higuchi and Ayako Akamoto who inspired a whole generation of Japanese golfers, and followed by great players like Ai Miyazato.
In 1998 a woman by the name of Se Ri Pak earned her way onto the LPGA. Not only was Se Ri successful as a golfer, but she inspired countless south Korean girls to take the game, and this season we have 32 players from that country competing at the highest level.
Lorena Ochoa is drawing fans and support from all over Mexico, and at the age of 24 she's a champion and a role model. Next month we have two more young Mexican women competing at qualifying school for their chance to have a life and a career at the LPGA.
The same story repeats itself in Taiwan, Italy, France, Italy, Colombia and Paraguay.
There's even more happening in our own backyard. In high schools and colleges here in the U.S., thousands of young women look to these stars and to these hosts and they say, "I want to be like Paula, Cristie, Morgan, Natalie, Julie, Lori," fill in the blank.
Then there's the Women's World Cup of Golf. It's a competition comprised of 22 two-women teams that represent 22 countries. It unofficially will open our season again in 2007. There's an opening and a closing ceremony that's produced conceptually along the lines of the Olympics; however, the budget is a little bit closer to those 1950 figures that I referenced earlier.
The competition is financed by the business community in South Africa. Men and women, some of who were in exile less than 20 years ago, participate. The new deputy president, who is central to the support of the tournament, is a black woman, the first to reach that position in South Africa. Many of the heads of the provinces are women, all of whom come together to focus the world on South Africa in order to show just how much they're accomplishing in that beautiful country.
And Marilynn Smith, who's traveled to countless countries throughout the world, can certainly take pride in knowing that an event like the Women's World Cup of Golf is being used as a tool to improve the lives and to unite cultures.
Tonight we honor Marilynn not just for being part of the remarkable band of women who launched the LPGA but also for making it possible for women's golf to grow into the organization it's become.
I'm going to borrow a few lines that were written by Michael Josephson in a piece that's called "Live a Life That Matters." It's where the question is in the end what will matter, what will be the value of the days, how will they be measured.
"What will matter is not what you bought but what you built, not what you got but what you gave; what will matter is not your success but your significance; what will matter is not what you learned but what you taught; what will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what. Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident; it's not a matter of circumstance but of choice."
On behalf of the members of the LPGA, Marilynn, we're grateful for the choices that you made. Yours is certainly a life and a career that has mattered. Congratulations to all of the inductees this evening. Thank you (applause).
GEORGE LOPEZ: Our next inductee comes from a different era in golf when things were simpler but not always easier. Henry Picard wasn't just a legend, he was a legend before other legends were legends. During the Great Depression, long before the Big Three, this grandfather of the modern professional was encouraging the youngsters of his day, if you could consider Sam Snead and Ben Hogan youngsters, but in all the pictures I've seen those dudes are old (laughter).
Those of you with a sweet tooth may be interested in knowing that Henry was a pro at the Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Milton Hershey not only paid his salary and allowed him to compete on Tour but also supplied him with countless Hershey bars that he would distribute on the road. He was popular with kids and Oprah (laughter).
Let's take a look at the career and legacy of veterans category selection Henry Picard.
GEORGE LOPEZ: Honoring Henry with a special tribute is another individual with strong Charleston ties, a youngster in her own right, with 33 wins on the LPGA Tour, inducted into the 2000 World Golf Hall of Fame, member Beth Daniel (applause).
BETH DANIEL: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It's always a pleasure to return to the World Golf Hall of Fame each fall to celebrate the game's history and those who have contributed to its success. To that end, I would first like to congratulate all the 2006 inductees and their families who are here with us this evening.
I know what a special night this is for you. It is just one evening, but it represents a lifetime of accomplishments and dedication, and it's a night you're sure to reflect on and cherish for many years to come. Congratulations again.
Tonight it is truly an honor to speak to you on behalf of the Picard family as we celebrate Mr. Henry Picard's lifetime of achievements and his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I want to thank the Picard family for this privilege. I only hope I can do justice to the man who has meant so much to many people, myself included.
I knew Mr. Picard from the time I began to play golf as a little girl in Charleston until his passing in 1997. Nearly 50 years separated us in age, yet the game of golf, as it does with so many strangers turned friends, brought us together.
Now, he was quite the figure at the Country Club of Charleston, tall and handsome, always wearing his cotton dress shirt and tie, even in the 100-degree heat. To a little eight-year-old kid just learning the game, this legendary golfer was an imposing figure. I was definitely intimidated by him.
In fact, there were times when I would see him coming down the path looking for me, and I would hide behind the big oak tree by the first tee. You see, he would always ask me a question about golf like, "How do you hit the ball high," "How do you hit a fade," something usually related to the swing, and then he would walk away.
At eight years old, I didn't have the answer to his questions, but I knew I had the rest of the day to work on it (laughter). And he knew I would go out and hit ball after ball all day long and figure it out. That was his way of building my work ethic, helping me to develop my shot-making, and instilling in me a purpose on the golf course and a love for practice.
At the end of the day, he would find me again. If I got the answer wrong, he would explain why and help me understand that particular lesson, how to hit it high or how to hit a fade. But if my answer was correct, he would simply say thank you, and walk away. That's it.
Mr. Picard was a man of few words, and he did this with his pupils on the range, as well. Rather than "that's right," or "see, that's how it's done," when they did something correctly, he would just say thank you and move onto the next lesson.
One day I went to my golf bag and I discovered it was full of brand new balata golf balls. You have to understand, as a kid, I played with whatever golf balls I could find, so I felt like I had hit the lottery.
When I realized he was the one who had done it, I gathered up the courage to thank him. He just looked at me and said, "You should be playing with the right kind of golf balls," and walked away. That was it. That was his way.
So our relationship was a quiet one, but I learned a great deal from this shy and humble man. I knew him well enough to know that he would have been uncomfortable with the events of this evening, all the hoopla and compliments would have embarrassed him. You see, even though he played very successfully in an era with Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, little is known about his career and the great man that he was. And that would probably be just fine with him.
But it's not just fine with me.
He left an indelible mark on this game, and he deserves to be mentioned each time we speak with golf's legendary players.
Henry Picard grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, as a caddie at the Plymouth Country Club. He played whenever he could and began to develop a pretty good game. In 1925 at the age of 18 he was given the opportunity to move to Charleston, South Carolina, to be the assistant pro at the Country Club of Charleston. He jumped at the chance, and his life in professional golf was underway.
While there Mr. Picard learned the ins and outs of being a club pro, but he also had the time to practice and play. He would participate in matches with members of the club in order to sharpen his game and would often play with Frank Ford, Sr., who was a great amateur at that time.
His matches made him a better player, but more importantly, a tougher competitor.
He began to enter some local events and won the Carolina Open in his first attempt in 1925. Gradually he began to branch out, play more on a national level. He was winning tournaments and gaining confidence, and in 1935, he officially joined the PGA TOUR.
Times were tough then and the money was not great, no million dollar purses or endorsement deals, as the country was still suffering the effects of the Great Depression. So to save on expenses the guys would drive to tournaments together and share rooms. On Mondays and Tuesdays the top players would play an exhibition matches at local clubs to make some extra cash, and a little side betting helped with expenses.
This is how the best players of this era survived playing the game they loved.
In his first full year on Tour, 1935, Mr. Picard finished second on the Money List. The 1939 season was his best; he was the leading money winner, earning $10,300. He stayed on Tour only five full seasons, mainly because he wanted to spend more time at home with his wife and four children. He made those seasons count, however, winning 25 times, including two major championships, the 1938 Masters and the 1939 PGA Championship. He also played on two Ryder Cup teams. In his entire professional career, he won 36 times.
Also throughout his career, he was the head professional at six golf clubs. He started at the Country Club of Charleston, helping Hershey Country Club while he was on the Tour, and ended his career at Seminole Golf Club. He was as much a teacher as he was a player.
Mr. Picard was well-liked and respected by his fellow competitors, and he was known as a very hard worker who spent long hours perfecting his game. I recently heard a story from a friend of Mr. Picard that illustrates his work ethic.
Mr. Picard called a pro that he knew to ask him if he could come to his club to practice for an upcoming event. The pro, of course, said yes, and a couple of days later Mr. Picard arrived.
He went out on the golf course and he picked out a spot from where he would hit balls for the rest of the week with various clubs. He assured the pro that he would not disturb any of its members.
After about three days of hitting balls into a large tree, Mr. Picard walked into the shop and asked the pro to come out and watch him. He told the pro he felt like he had mastered what he had been working on.
Well, the pro had been looking out the window, and he said, "Well, I sure hope so because you've killed the area of grass that you've been hitting from and you're about to kill the tree."
At that point Mr. Picard quietly pulled out his 2-iron and hit a shot right over the top of the tree. He said he had been practicing high, soft, long irons for the course that he was playing the next week.
This story took place in 1938. The course he was practicing for was Augusta National, and it was the week before he won The Masters.
Mr. Picard was also very generous with his time and money. He was known to offer financial help to players and friends in need, and he gave his time to players on Tour who needed help with their games. He had a very good eye when it came to the golf swing.
The teacher he went to early in his career for swing fundamentals was Alex Morrison, and he helped many of the players of his era with these same principles. Ben Hogan sought advice from him over the years, and Mr. Picard is credited with helping him to correct the hook that gave him so much trouble early in his career.
Hogan was quoted as saying that Henry Picard was the greatest teacher he ever knew.
Hogan also dedicated his first book, "Power Golf," to him, saying that Mr. Picard "was a great golfer, and he remains one of my best and favorite friends. He was so kind and generous, and his encouragement gave me the inspiration to keep playing in my early years."
I could go on and on with many more stories, but at the heart of each is the fact that Mr. Picard set a great example to all of us who knew him. He was also an inspiration both on and off the golf course to those of us who aspire to attain success and respect. He was a great family man, player, teacher and friend who never asked for honors or celebration, only respect.
So as we welcome Henry Picard to his rightful place in history within the World Golf Hall of Fame, I know he is looking down on us and would simply like to say, "thank you." (Applause.)
GEORGE LOPEZ: Nice job, Beth.
In addition to the generous support of the Hall of Fame members who contribute their time, their memorabilia and their loyalty, there are 27 supporting organizations from around the world, including the PGA TOUR, the LPGA, the PGA of America, the USGA, the R & A, the European Tour and a host of others represented here tonight that help the Hall spread the word about its mission.
But let's get real, the Hall of Fame couldn't do it without the sponsors like IBM, whose contribution makes the guest experience in the museum an even better one; Wachovia, the Hall of Fame's financial service provider; and my personal favorite, KetelOne (laughter). That's the last thing I remember last night about 12:45 in the morning. KetelOne, I'd like to thank them for a great weekend, part of it I can't remember. They're the official sponsor of the 2006 induction ceremony weekend, and I really couldn't think of a better sponsor for a weekend like this, maybe an ambulance company (laughter).
Finally, I'd like to recognize the founding partner of the World Golf Hall of Fame and the First Tee, the Shell Oil Company. Shell's vision and contribution spans the game of golf from those starting out in The First Tee program to supporting the legacies of the members of the Hall of Fame itself.
The First Tee is very important. I didn't have that when I played golf. All I would hear on the golf course is "Hey, Mexican, where did you get those clubs?" We only had one in case we heard a noise.
The youth of tomorrow need the leadership of today and the inspiration of the past. Another shining example of both was Byron Nelson, a gentleman of the game and an original member of the Hall of Fame.
GEORGE LOPEZ: To say a few words about Byron Nelson, it is my honor to introduce chairman of the World Golf Foundation and the commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Tim Finchem (applause).
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, George. Good evening, everyone. I've been asked to add a few words about Byron. One of the great things about this job is you get to meet many of these great Hall of Famers and spend some time with them, and that certainly was the case with Byron.
Early on, Deane, when he got THE PLAYERS Championship going, invited Byron to be a part of it, to come every year, and indeed he did, year after year after year. There was a special dinner with him every Sunday night at THE PLAYERS, and he continued to come until he couldn't travel anymore.
Later on in 1994, Byron was the official starter, if you will, at the first Presidents Cup. He was on the tee for every match, working with President Ford as the honorary chairman starting the matches. We attended his tournament every year.
Last year I had the incredible experience -- he invited me to come and spend a day with him in his wood shop at his home to show me how he made things, and over the years I had seen these little trinkets he would make and give to players, little wood things, but I had no idea he was such an incredible craftsman.
I think if you knew of Byron, if you were a golfer but you didn't know him, you certainly knew what a great competitor he was and how he handled himself. If you spent any time at all around the man, you realized what a true gentleman he was and how wonderful he was to be around. And if you had the opportunity to sort of hang around with him, to have lunch with him, to spend pieces of time with him, you learned what an incredible story teller he was and how deeply he felt about things.
Byron would tell you at the drop of a hat that regardless of his accomplishments on the golf course and other things he did over the years, the one thing he was by far and away the most proud of is the partnership he forged with the Salesmanship Club to do the incredible things for charity that they managed to do in Dallas. And although he would never say it, I honestly believe that that's what he would like to be remembered for.
If he's listening tonight, I can tell you, Byron, that after raising nearly $100 million and helping countless thousands of families and individuals in Dallas, that you will indeed be remembered for that because in doing so, you really changed what PGA TOUR is all about and created today a situation where it's the secondary mission of our organization.
Byron, we will miss you, but your spirit will stay with us forever (applause).
I also had the privilege of making a special introduction to our next presenter. Before I do that, I would like to recognize and thank our chief operating officer Jack Peter and his staff for the incredible job they've done the last few years here with the Hall of Fame (applause), and I know most of you are aware of this, but I'll say it anyway, that this facility could not run like many of our tournaments on the LPGA and the PGA TOUR, could not run without volunteer support. There are some 250 volunteers that commit their time and energy to the Hall of Fame. Over 100 of them are with us tonight. If you see them in their green vests, give them a thank you for the great work they do to help tonight work and the other things at the Hall of Fame during the course of the year. Thank you so much (applause).
I know most of you are aware of what else is happening these few days is that there is a conference going on, the annual 20/20 conference where we talk about a lot of things, including the growth of the game, and our next speaker spoke this afternoon to the 20/20 conference, and I introduced him, Arnold Palmer, to that group, remembering that we had some information presented earlier in the day about the historical growth of the game.
And there was this big spike in interest that you look at when you look at graphs and tables that occurred in the '60s, and that spike and the huge increase in the number of golf courses being built, the increase of television and fans was due to Arnold Palmer, probably an individual that has had more impact on the growth and interest and love for the game of anybody in the game's history. His impact is immeasurable.
Today he spoke and took questions of the people at 20/20. It was interesting to see the faces of people that had an opportunity to listen to him comment about his perception of the game today.
He is with us today, and I guess perhaps one of his first public appearances since making the decision ten days ago or two weeks ago to discontinue his competitive career, and he did it suddenly, and Holly, my wife, reminded me that he had warned us of that a couple years ago, that he was going to make a decision one day that that's it, and that's what he did.
I think the good news is regardless of that fact, that this tremendous impact that he's had on the game over the years that he has today will continue.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to present to you to pay tribute to our next inductee from the lifetime achievement category, the inimitable Arnold Palmer (applause).
ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you.
Before I begin my remarks, I would like to have you watch some video about to be shown.
ARNOLD PALMER: I can't begin to guess how many times I've shaken people's hands around the world. Thousands perhaps, maybe millions, with a man on the street and some of the most important people in the world.
One of those handshakes, though, I can't think has meant more to me and my career than the one I had nearly 50 years ago with Mark McCormack.
I'm sure that many other great golfers and celebrities in sports fields would say much the same about Mark and IMG and what they did for their careers. Beyond the individuals, it is certainly true that the game of golf owes a great deal to Mark.
Think of the tournaments that he created, the involvement in the corporate world that he brought to tournament golf and to the wealth that was produced in the game, literary history of professional golf that he put into print with his comprehensive books covering every tournament, any consequence that happened in the world of golf, the world golf rating system that he devised which is now the most important statistical yardstick in the game of golf.
That's far from what he did for the game and those who are involved in it.
On a personal basis, there were two sides to Mark. One is pretty well known; Mark was a brilliant, hard-driving business executive and negotiator. He was the right man at the right time in the world of sports marketing.
His other side is little known, mainly because he wanted it that way. Mark was a very generous man. He did many kind and helpful things behind the scenes for people, particularly those people who were down on their luck. Actually this is a bittersweet moment for me to have a role in Mark's induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. It's particularly satisfying for me because he -- particularly satisfying because he is eminently qualified for this honor.
In fact, in a recent conversation I had with George Steinbrenner, when he was writing about Mark, he said, "I agree that Mark probably should be in more than one Hall of Fame."
On a somber note, though, I regret very much that this honor did not come to him while he was still here to enjoy the occasion with his family and friends. As one of the friends on behalf of his family, I thank World Golf Hall of Fame for including Mark McCormack in this great honor.
I think most of you know the relationship that I have had with Mark McCormack, and it's one that I'm not sure that any of us ever thought would go as long as it had. I started with talking about the handshake and what that handshake meant. It's very difficult to tell someone what that meant and what it has meant to me, what it meant to Mark and to his family and to all of them who are here tonight.
To them I say congratulations, and I am sorry Mark is not here to accept this great thing. But I hope that all of you understand what that has meant to them and to Mark in his absence.
It's a great pleasure for me to be here tonight to say thanks to the Hall of Fame for inducting Mark McCormack in this Hall of Fame, and to all the others, I congratulate those who are receiving the honors tonight, Vijay, Larry, Marilynn and Henry, all friends of mine and people who I have had a great deal of respect for.
To all of you, I hope you've had a great evening, and I thank you for this opportunity. Good night (applause).
GEORGE LOPEZ: I have a trivia question for all of you. What four golfers won three majors in the 1980s? The first three are Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros from the parking lot. The fourth is actually our next inductee, who didn't begin to play until he returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam. The first time he played a round of golf he broke 100 and within nine months broke 70.
The first time I played golf I broke a rear view mirror.
Let's take a look at the career of this U.S. Open and two-time PGA Championship winner.
GEORGE LOPEZ: Presenting Larry Nelson is someone that I am totally amazed by, Mr. Gary Player. I mean, does this guy sleep? Does he eat or really does he just work out? I mean, how do you do that? I mean, how do you do that with golf clubs? I can do it with chop sticks but not with golf clubs. Vijay, can you do that?
As the Hall's global ambassador, Gary spreads the word about golf and his positive influences around the world and I know he's designed a few great golf courses while he was at it. Ladies and gentlemen, the World Golf Hall of Fame's global ambassador, Mr. Gary Player (applause).
GARY PLAYER: Lee Trevino told me about you. He said you'd steal my jacket right off my back. You must understand I won that tournament when I was 13.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd just like to say what a thrill it is to come back to the World Golf Hall of Fame. This is a place that oozes in tradition and history, and those of us that love the game as we do, we never get tired of coming here.
To our inductees tonight, they add great luster to the World Golf Hall of Fame. And to Larry Nelson, I'd like to say thank you very much, Larry, for choosing me to be able to say a few words about you tonight. I've been an ardent fan of yours and your entire family.
It gave me great pleasure today to meet all your family, particularly your mother, and in the Bible it says, "Honor thy mother and thy father," and I know your mother tonight is enjoying this as much as anybody could, and as is your father who's not here today, I'm sure he's enjoying it as much as he could as we understand the situation.
Extraordinary people come along now and again. In the realm of politics or economics, in the field of arts or sports, and in this case we have Larry Nelson, the sportsman, the man. The French have a great saying, monsieur extraordinaire, Mr. Extraordinary, and this is what he is. He's a very humble man, as we saw on the screen.
He's awfully considerate. Any time you do well on the Tour, he'll be the first man to come along and congratulate you. In the book of Proverbs it says always enjoy the success of others because when you have success you'd like them to enjoy yours, and here is a perfect example of a man who does that.
He's patient. Patience is not granted, it's earned, and he's earned this by hitting a lot of balls, suffering, struggling, coming back, just a remarkable man. I've never seen Larry misbehave in all the years I've played on the Tour. He's had impeccable manners and we know that manners maketh the man.
He's got the right attitude, and attitude is the thing that we embrace for that particular day. We can either be sad, miserable or pleasant, and he's always had the right attitude, and attitude can break a home, a church or a business, or it can have the vice versa effect, and Larry has had a fantastic attitude.
If I had to write two of the greatest strengths of Larry, I'd say his family and his faith. What a family man. His wife Gayle is an absolute angel. She has never changed in all the years I've known her. He has wonderful family, in-laws. His sister is here today, and Mrs. Nelson, all I can say is, as they say in the South, "You and your husband did good." Larry is something to be very, very proud of.
Larry met Gayle when he was five years of age and she was three, and he told me today, "I kissed her when I was six and I've kissed her every single day since." If there's anything better than love, which applies to his family life, I'd like to know about it. To feel your grandchildren, and I can say this because we have 18, whenever your son or your grandchildren sit on your lap and put their arms around you and give you a hug and say, "I love you," it's a great feeling. Love is something that we all have a desire for. It's the greatest thing on earth that's ever been in existence. Love is God. We all have a desire, as I say, for this word love, particularly in a world where there's so many killings and hatreds that exist today. It's very, very prevalent.
You know that Larry Nelson, it's a funny thing, I'd just like to say what is said on this camera, and I'd like you to ponder for a minute because when you see something go across the screen, it happens very quickly, but to start the game at 21 years of age to me is remarkable, and then to actually get his player's card when he's 27. Arnold, Jack and myself had won many majors. Tiger Woods was an absolute star when he was a young man. Here a man actually joins a Tour at 27, wins all these tournaments, not only in the United States but in other parts of the world, as well, and goes on to win three major championships. It leaves you food for thought to say what would have happened if this man had started at a very young age.
Vietnam he goes to, 21 versus everybody else. I don't know, to me it just sticks out a mile at what talent the man has had.
There's one bad thing about Larry, though. He was leading money winner on several occasions. I went to dinner with him five times, he never paid once (laughter). He's definitely got deep pockets and short arms (laughter). But to the country, he's been the opposite; he's been a great man for charity and has done a lot of charitable work.
Hard work you don't -- you don't attain success without hard work. It's not to say because you dedicate your life and you work hard that you are going to be a success, but the odds are in your favor that they're a lot better. Winston Churchill, my great hero, said, "The height that great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight but while his opponents were sleeping he was toiling upward in the night," and that basically means you've got to hit more balls, you've got to do more situps, you've got to watch your diet better, you've got to do everything better, à la Tiger Woods, if you want to be the best. You're just not going to climb to the top of that tree with a little bit of luck.
Larry, I'd like to say that your name, Larry Nelson, lies between Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus, and you will stand tall for a long time. I know one thing that they'll put on your epitaph one day, "Here lies a real man and who also contributed to society."
Thank you (applause).
LARRY NELSON: It may take me a little while to get started here.
I really didn't know how emotional this evening would be. So far it's been pretty much very emotional. So just bear with me. I have some notes here. It's actually for your benefit, not mine, so that I can get through this in the quickest way.
Gary, I want to thank you very much for that introduction. I've admired you for a long time. I asked you to do this for two reasons: One, I knew I wouldn't have to change the setting of the microphone (laughter), and two, I just love to hear you talk (laughter). I mean, I just love an accent.
But one story, with Gary, I played with him when he shot 67 I think in Hawaii, and I was fortunate enough to play with him the next day, and you always wonder how this guy stays in such good shape. But Josh and I, Josh was caddying for me and we were walking down the 11th or 12th fairway and Josh and I were enjoying a Snickers, and I looked over and Gary Player was pulling out this red thing out of this little cellophane bag. Come to find out it was a red bell pepper. I was extremely embarrassed (laughter), and I think you were about 7-under through about 12 holes that day.
Anyway, I've started eating a lot of red bell peppers, and I thank you very much for that (laughter).
But I want to thank Jack Peter, I want to thank Eleanor Lanza and the World Golf Hall of Fame staff. They did a great job of putting this together. We gave them 301 articles when we left the house and we didn't know exactly how it was going to be. But I can say that I could not have been more pleased with what's up there. I spent ten minutes just by myself looking at it reflecting back on how really good life and golf has been for me.
This is not really a story tonight of me as much as a story of all the help that I got along the way because you don't start this game at 21, qualify for the Tour at 25 and a half and end up here this night without a whole lot of help. That's the reason why I'm here tonight, to express the gratitude that I have for so many people.
Furman Bisher I know is in the audience tonight. He wrote so many honest articles. Some of them were really good, about me. But I really appreciated him and was one of my biggest advocates and is one of the people I enjoy picking up the paper and reading.
Also my family here tonight. I just wanted to thank my family. As Gary said, the family is very important to me. Without really a lot of support from them, there's no way that you can accomplish anything in this game. It is really difficult. But I want to thank Libby for being here, Gayle's sister; for Brad, my nephew and his wife Cheri, they're here tonight; for my mom, sorry that dad couldn't be here tonight. He would have loved to have been here. As a matter of fact, you would have loved for him to be here because he would have known every one of you by name and probably have already made a nickname up for you.
But mom and dad both gave me some qualities that kind of stuck with me, and I really admire in other people when I meet them, and one is that I can appreciate people for who they are, and I love to look people in their eye, straight into their eyes, because I really feel like I can see straight into their soul. That's what they taught me, to love everyone, respect everyone and look people in their eye.
Also I want to thank or want to recognize my two sons Drew and Josh. Without their support, without their love, without their telling people that, yeah, my dad is away but when he comes home, he's home and he spends that time with us, they've blessed me with two great daughters, Drew with Jessica and Josh with Kimberly, and my two grandchildren, Ariel and Kobe.
Anyway, Drew told me coming down here on the airplane, he said, "Ask Kobe who his favorite golfer is." I expect some really nice response to that. I said, "Kobe, who's your favorite golfer?" He said, "Tiger." I said, "Tiger? What about me?" He said, "Pappy, you're not on the video game."
I just want you to know, Tim, you've got to do some work and try to get me on that video game. I'm losing some status in my family here.
Like I said, this is a great night for me but not a great night for me in the sense of what this is. Seven or eight years ago I wouldn't have given you two cents for the chance of me being here. But as it got later on in the 2000s, I thought, well, maybe there's a chance. But when I got the call from Tim, I was really overwhelmed. I really appreciate that. Tim, I want to thank you and the PGA TOUR for what they do for this and your lovely wife Holly and just for y'all's involvement and keeping this going like this.
I want to tell you a little bit of my life. I'm not going to keep you here very long, I didn't start playing golf until I was 21 but I loved, loved the game when I started, and I couldn't spend enough time.
But one thing that happened to me was when I was in high school before I started this, I was really -- I competed in everything, anything that had a ball. I just loved competing. But like some of the other people standing up here, I thought it was kind of a sissy sport, playing football, baseball, basketball.
But I met a guy in the Army who I just met earlier before I came up here, we were out in Fort Hood, Texas, and we did things that Army guys do, we played a few cards and we sat around and talked about what we did back at home, and he said he played golf. He was about three or four inches taller than I was, a little bit bigger than me, so I didn't tell him what I thought about the game. But I decided if I ever got a chance, maybe I might start playing.
I was sent to Vietnam in 1968, and I was expecting to be over there for six months. I was over with an infantry unit, and I got a letter while I was in the rice paddies somewhere, and it said actually you're getting out 90 days early to come home. I went from 100 days left in the service in Vietnam to 11 days. I was sitting in a foxhole looking out in the Vietnamese night wondering what was I going to do when I got home.
I knew I was real excited about seeing Gayle again. I hadn't seen her in quite a while. But I was also excited about a cheeseburger, french fries and a chocolate milkshake. These are the things you think about when you're aware from this kind of stuff.
Anyway, when I got home, I said, okay, this is my opportunity. Maybe I'll start golf. But I had to go back to school and I had to work, and I worked 70 hours a week and went to school three hours three days a week, so golf had to be put on the back burner. Finally Gayle's mom and dad said, "We'll give you enough money so you don't have to work yourself to death so you can finish school." So I had the opportunity to go to school from 8:00 in the morning until 9:00 in the morning and I had the rest of the day free.
So what better way to fill up ten hours or eight hours than golf? So I joined a little club, had enough money to do that, Pinetree Country Club, and I started playing golf.
Head pro there, Burt Seagraves, kind of took me under his wing and kind of taught me what he knew about the golf swing and he kind of paid attention to me, which I really needed at that time. But he also gave me the book, Ben Hogan's book, "Five Basic Fundamentals." He said, "If you want to learn how to swing, use this book."
So being kind of a math major and doing it in kind of an analytical way, I decided to work on each one of those fundamentals, work on it until I got it and then go to the next.
Sure enough, it worked. I became a better player. I actually wanted to be a club professional. I applied for a club job in a small town not far from us. It came down to two people and I didn't get the job. Some of the members there at the club who are with me tonight got together and said, "Why don't you go down to Tampa and try to play for a year. Why don't you just try to play." I was making $67 a week. It seemed like a big push to me. What was I going to miss?
But the good thing about it is that these people, and Chad Austin, his wife Hazel and Bill Grice and his wife Anita and Larry Bacon are here tonight, one of my three original sponsors, and they put up the money, and they said if you don't make it, you don't owe us a thing, but if you do make it, just pay us back and you can go on your own.
Burt told me, I went back to him and said should I do it? Burt Seagraves, the guy that was teaching me. He said, "There's something I want you to remember. If you don't try it, you may always regret it." When you're learning this game, he says, "Another thing you need to remember is shots don't lie. It's going to go where you hit it. You can always correct what you're doing if you just remember that shots don't lie."
So that's how I began my Tour, and I went down to Tampa, played on the mini-Tours for a year, qualified for the Tour the first time, 1973. If you look up the word rookie in the dictionary, that's me. I was the pure rookie. I had only played in one 72-hole event in my whole career, never played on any kind of grass except Bermudagrass, and we do play in places -- I've still got a hurt wrist.
I used to watch on television when the guys up in New York would take these big old long divots out of the fairway and I'd see the caddie run up there and grab them and take them -- I was playing on Georgia clay and Bermuda down in Georgia off a practice tee, and I can remember trying to take these big old long divots, and I still have problems today (laughter).
But I've got to tell you that in all this, in going through all this, Gary mentioned my wife Gayle, been married for 39 years, she never complained -- if she did complain, it wasn't very much. But for her to raise two children on the road, which turned out really good, by the way, going three meals a day with a three-year-old and a five-year-old, it doesn't make you long to kind of get really unhappy with this lifestyle.
But to be as strict as she is, she was able to bend and mold and really helped me to accomplish in this game what I was able to accomplish, and I couldn't have done it without you.
Also I want to tell you that I've been around, I've had the really fortunate -- been fortunate to be around Gary and Arnold, Jack, Lee Trevino, some of the best that have ever played the game, and I know that I got the best introduction I've ever gotten when Arnold and I played in the Team Championship down at Disney World. You probably don't remember it but I remember it.
They introduced us on the first tee. Now, this was 1985, something like that, and I had won five times, I think, at that time. They introduced the team of Larry Nelson and Arnold Palmer having combined to win 72 events worldwide (laughter), and it was really nice to them not to break up those wins (laughter). I mean, I enjoyed that just tremendously.
But I've got to tell you, with being around all these great guys, my father never played the game until he was 50 years old. He loved sports, was always involved with me, but it just really upset him that he couldn't tell me what to do with this. So after playing at the Atlanta Classic, first time he ever watched me play golf, I played awful, I hit the ball everywhere, I missed the cut by ten shots, wasn't even close.
Well, he rode with us, he and mom rode with us, and they were sitting in the back of the car and we were leaving the Country Club and we hadn't gotten half a mile down the road, and dad leaned over from the backseat, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Son, I don't know much about golf, but if I were you, I'd try to hit it a little closer to where those flags are" (laughter).
I'm telling you, it's the best advice I ever got (laughter).
I promised from that point on that I would try to find a way that I would try to hit it closer to where all those flags were on the green.
I ended up joining the Atlanta Country Club in '81, same year I won the PGA, and built a house there in '82 because it was closer to where my kids were going to school. And the members of Atlanta Country Club and John Gearing in particular, the head pro there, was kind of instrumental -- there are people in your life that teach you certain things about the game. John taught me just how to love the game, and every time I would get ready to go off in '81, in '83, in '87, he would say, "You look great, just go out there and have a good time." He always told me if I could stand behind you and tell where you were aimed, I knew you were in trouble.
He would always check to see if things were going good and he would always give me the confidence to go ahead and do what I could do.
But Gary said something earlier about my faith, and I've got to tell you that I cannot not stand up here and tell you about my family, about my golf game and not tell you the most important part of my life, and that's my faith. It's a very simple faith.
I mean, I won't bore you with a lot of theology or anything else. I just want you to understand that I believe that Jesus is who he says he was and that he came and he died on the cross for our sins. I mean, it's a very simple faith.
By believing in him we can do great things. It has really -- I enjoy talking to people about this because of what it's meant for me, my family and a lot of my friends, so for me to be able to stand up here and tell you this, I appreciate you listening.
There's some special people that I just want to thank in closing. Bob and Bev down here in front of you, and Bev has worked for me tore 16 years, and I guarantee I could not have done a thing the last 16 years. I hate little bitty things, she loves little bitty things, so she has taken care of all the little things and a lot of the big things.
Also, Dr. Norton Baker and his wife Eileen. I know they're here. I look like a good physical specimen to you, but I have problems physically, and he's taken care of every one of them from wrist, knees. Arnold, he's probably helped you, too.
Stan and Helen Chinkawa, who are going to be watching this when it's reaired from Hawaii, and these are some of the people I've known -- Arnie had his army, I have my squad. These are members of my squad. To qualify you have to be a member for 30 years. Stan and Helen Chinkawa are part of that squad.
Also Dick and Sharon Ball, they're here, part of that squad, and Ken and Carol Rainwater. John Nasaros turned 90, first person I ever met who wore a Larry Nelson tee shirt in 1976, my first fan, and he was a fan ever since. He's 90 years old. I just wanted to recognize those people and say thanks.
I also want to say that I have been able to play with every great player from Sam Snead to Tiger Woods, and I've been able to call Arnold Palmer partner and Gary Player friend, and I know that I will never be considered the greatest player that ever played. But I have been blessed with having been or had the opportunity to associate and compete with the greatest that have ever played the game. Thank you very much (applause).
GEORGE LOPEZ: The producers would like me to let everybody know that we have reached the halfway point -- no (laughter). You know the strangest thing about the World Golf Hall of Fame, the members never stop playing. In every other sport, when you're done, you're done; it's over.
Not golfers. When they're not playing you never know where they're going to turn up. Let's take a look at the Hall of Fame year in review.
GEORGE LOPEZ: The Hall of Fame is the best of the best and why. In the case of Vijay Singh it's simple: Hard work and practice, practice, practice. How else could he have risen from 174th in the world in 1989 to the No. 1 golfer in the world in 2004? Let's take a look at the rise of Vijay Singh, a proud son of the island nation of Fiji, who climbed to the top of the PGA TOUR.
GEORGE LOPEZ: Now to present Vijay for induction is a senior partner of Forstmann, Little and CEO and chairman of IMG, Mr. Ted Forstmann (applause).
TED FORSTMANN: Thank you, George. I am really delighted and honored to be here to introduce my good friend and golf partner, Vijay Singh, and I'm very proud to be here as he receives golf's highest honor.
Let me begin by telling you actually how we met, which is a story that like a lot of stories in golf and sports in general was begun by Mark McCormack.
Mark and I were very good friends. Back in 1993, I had just bought a company called Gulfstream, which was not doing very well, and I had become chairman and CEO of that company, and it was in the papers and so on. And Mark and I were having lunch that day.
He said, "I read the papers about you." I said, "Yeah, you're a great marketer and a very good businessman. Let me ask you a question: What would you do if you were I?" He said, "To tell you the truth, I would resign. I don't think you have a chance." I said, "Very funny, Mark, but what would you do?" He said, "I'd play in the AT & T, I'll arrange it for you and I'll get you a partner," and he did.
I met Vijay who was my partner in 1993 on the putting green of Spyglass, and we've been friends ever since. We've played in the AT & T every year for the past 14 years. One year he played so well he won the pro part of the tournament by so many shots that we almost won. He almost carried me along.
Anyhow, that's how we met.
We've had a very close relationship for all these 14 years, and in everything other than golf, in investments and business advice and this and that, we have a little bit of a father-son relationship, with me, of course, as the father.
In golf it's very different. Vijay is very supportive of my meager talents but a hard taskmaster. In fact, in golf I think you could say that I have a father who's 20 years younger than I am.
It kind of goes like this: This year, for example, we played in a tournament in Scotland together, and in the practice round the day before the tournament began, I was fortunate enough to play one of the two or three best rounds of my life. I wasn't playing with Vijay that day, but we had dinner together. I told him all about it, and he looked at me and said, "That's great. Let's see if you can do it tomorrow." Which I did not do.
We went out and played our first round, and after it was over, he had had a very good round, 7-under par, and I was at lunch waiting for him to show up, and there he came on the television set being interviewed, and as part of the interview the interviewer asked him, "Well, haven't you been playing with this guy for a lot of years together?" And he said, "Yeah," and he said, "Why do you do that?" Vijay says, "We're good friends and we enjoy playing with each other." The fellow said, "How did he do today?" Vijay said, "Not that great. We're going to go to the practice tee right after lunch because after 14 years he's still looking for his game," and that's a quote (laughter). And we did go to the practice tee.
But seriously, who is Vijay Singh golf-wise? Well, golf-wise he's been on the Tour for 14 years. His first year was 1993 where he was named Rookie of the Year, the year we met. He's been one of the Top 5 money leaders for the last ten years, and in 2004 and 2005 he won the PGA TOUR money title.
In 2004 he won nine times and became the first person to win more than $10 million in a single season en route to becoming the No. 1 ranked player in the world and the PGA TOUR Player of the Year.
And as a little sidelight, we've been sponsoring Vijay for quite a while. Forstmann Little is on his shirt. And in 2004 I think he got more TV time than President Bush. He was leading so many tournaments all the time, and the great shame of it was that we actually had nothing to sell, which was too bad.
In 2005 he won four times and had 18 Top 10 finishes. As you just saw, he's won three majors, 51 world golf titles, and 17 of those were after he turned 40.
As you also saw, Vijay learned golf in Fiji from his dad who was an airplane technician and also taught golf. As you know, he is known as one of the hardest working guys on the Tour, and I can assure you that he has a practice routine that frankly is as tough and demanding as any professional athlete in any sport. He had to come a long way. He had to overcome a great deal, and he had to work very hard to get to where he is today. All of this in my opinion, a testament to his determination and courage.
Most importantly for me, Vijay Singh is a good guy. He's a really good guy. He's a believer in old-fashioned values, he works hard at his craft, he's a family man, he's a straight-shooter, and he's a guy that people who know him love being around.
Vijay, we know that in Hindi your name means "victory," and tonight you're victorious for sure as you receive golf's highest honor, which you richly deserve.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce my golfing partner, who's a little bit my son, a little bit my father and altogether my really good friend all wrapped into one, Vijay Singh (applause).
VIJAY SINGH: I waited so long I lost my nervousness now. I've been told a ten-minute speech and that's it, and I've been practicing ten-minute speech for so long, I don't know what time zone you guys are on, but -- (laughter).
Anyway, I'm a little nervous so bear with me. I'm going to shoot this out of the hip a little bit. Teddy Forstmann, thank you for introducing me up here. He's still trying to find his game, really (laughter).
I met Teddy some 13 years ago, 14 years ago when the great Mark McCormack introduced us. I didn't know that I was going to play with this one gentleman for 14 years. We struck a great relationship, and I really have enjoyed every moment of it. Teddy, thanks again.
I'm going to talk a little bit about myself. I'm going to try to stretch it out to ten minutes, so bear with me. My journey started in Fiji. As you saw, my clubhouse, Nadi Airport Golf Club, that's where I began playing golf. That's it right there. I'm just watching the TPC being built (laughter). Look at that.
And the membership was 25 bucks, and that was a little too hard for me to even pay. That was some, gosh, 30 years ago. I was there last year, and I was there with Joey. I'm designing a golf course in Fiji so I had to go and see my golf club. There was a guy still playing with persimmon woods, and I said, "I don't believe what I'm seeing over here."
And they were enjoying it. They were enjoying the game of golf and not really caring what they were using, and that was pretty much how things are in Fiji golf-wise.
I told Joey when I went up to the golf course, I said, "That's the tree where I used to practice under, and that's where I gave a lot of lessons." I actually gave lessons to my wife there. It started off outside and went from there (laughter).
That was Fiji, you know. I didn't know any better. It was probably some of the nicest times of my life. I was beating balls all day and just trying to play this game of golf.
I love this game. I think it's one of the best games that I've ever known and ever will know.
I traveled to Australia when I was 18. I had a very -- well, for me it was a successful career in Fiji. I won a lot of amateur events, actually all of them (laughter). There was nobody else to beat (laughter).
I went to Australia, I qualified, got my Tour card, but in Australia when you qualify to get your Tour card, you still have to play Monday qualifying to get into the tournaments. So it was a privilege to get your Tour card, but at the same time you had to qualify, and I didn't do too good in those ones.
I remember playing I think it was Kingston Heath one year with my brother, and we were actually watching Greg Norman play and he was on the fifth hole, the par 3, and we were standing about 20 yards away, and the sound that came out of this shot that he hit, I looked at my brother and I said, "That's how a golf ball should sound like when you hit it" (laughter). Not so long ago I was playing with Greg. That was some of the memories that I remember.
I didn't do very well in Australia. I was an amateur trying to play pro golf, and it was a struggle. I didn't make much money. Actually none (laughter).
So I went to Asia, decided to try my luck in Asia, thought it would be easier playing golf in Asia, but they had the same 18 holes in Asia, as well. It was pretty hard playing golf there, as well. I did not make -- I could not make a living playing golf. So I took a job in Borneo, which is another island in Malaysia, and taught golf for two years. My wife Ardena was there with me, and it was great because I was earning money and giving a lot of lessons. I got pretty good at that.
So George, if you want to take a lesson -- it's not going to happen in Bob Hope, either (laughter).
I just got a withdrawal slip over here (laughter).
But I enjoyed it and I learned a lot of money, for me it was, and met some really good friends in Borneo that came from Scotland. They kind of convinced me that that's where I should go, go play golf in Europe.
So with my 2,000 pounds in my pocket I left for Scotland to win the British Open, and that was 1987. Unfortunately I didn't qualify for the Open, but I stayed on there and did some odd jobs here and there, was bouncing in one of the night clubs for a while and got my aggression from those people (laughter), and did pretty well actually. I practiced hard, played all over Europe on the mini-Tours and got my Tour card in 1988. I actually finished 2nd to Parnevik and he's still bragging about that (laughter).
But it was fun. I really enjoyed it, and playing all over Europe was difficult. I had to get visas. Coming from Fiji you need visas to go to every country in the world. I almost thought I had to get a visa to get back to my own country at one time, it was so difficult. And the currency changes in Europe and the language, it was pretty difficult to get around, especially with not enough money in your pocket.
I remember one time, the first break I ever got was I was playing in France in I think it was 1989, and there's a par 3 event, and I took this shot, an 8-iron shot, and the ball landed past the pin and started spinning back, and this lady behind started jumping up-and-down, and I looked up and it was Ardena jumping up-and-down, and I looked at my fellow playing partner and said, "That should be very close," and he said, "No, I think it went in." I said, "Oh, my goodness, that's got a car for this hole. The hole-in-one prize is a car." All I could think of is how much money am I going to make selling that car (laughter). That's a fact.
That was one of the biggest breaks I ever got. I sold the car, and two weeks later I won my first event in Italy, and voilá, I won a few more events in Europe and my first ever tournament in America, funny enough, was an invitation to Bay Hill, Arnold's tournament, and I have never since missed a Bay Hill event, and it's been good to me. I finished second in that event when I came over and finished really high up in four other events that year to retain my Tour card. I didn't have to go to the dreaded Tour school that everybody talks about.
A year later I won my first event in America, the Westchester Classic, and 29 victories later, here I am, a Hall of Famer (applause).
I owe everything to golf. I think golf -- without golf I don't think I would have done any of this. Golf gave me this ability to travel the world, play, meet so many wonderful people, travel to so many different places. It's something that not everybody can say. I mean, I come from Fiji and travel the world and play golf and enjoy something I do and be successful at it. I think it's a dream come true, and I really, really enjoy doing it, and I still do.
I always thought that the only way I could manage to be successful in the game was by playing golf and hitting balls and getting good at what I do, and that was my motive. I just said you're just going to go out there and beat balls and beat balls until you know exactly what you're going to do.
I did go to Europe one time and it was cold and miserable and all I'm doing is hitting balls, not really knowing much about the golf swing but learning it as I went along. Some of the guys thought I was crazy, but I believed in what I was doing, and that got me through.
I always knew that I could do it, and if you believe in something I think that's the best thing you can ever do is believe in yourself, and that's what I did.
That's me and my golf.
I'd just like to thank some of the organizations that have given me the freedom to play. PGA TOUR for letting me play here in America. I think when I first came over Deane Beman was the commissioner. Deane, thanks very much.
PGA of America, being a club pro I know how you run and I think you guys do a great job and I'm really proud of the way you treated me and very happy the way you treated me, and I thank you for it.
PGA European Tour, when I did go to Europe they opened their arms for me, I'd like to thank you.
And IMG, for managing me for the last 15-odd years, the late Mark McCormack and associates and now Teddy Forstmann.
There are a few friends that I need to thank. I can only remember some of you (laughter), but if I do forget, I know who you are and I hope you -- and I thank you for being my friend and supporting me through my career.
First of all, Teddy for being my friend for all these years, always there for me. I thank you again; Greg Hopkins, Cleveland Golf, who believed in my ability and signed me up a few years ago and we did great things together; my one coach, Farid Guedra, he's in Sweden right now, and I'm sure he's freezing (laughter), but he's been a friend of mine for over 18 years. I met him in Africa when I was playing there, and he got to learn about my golf swing and we became friends ever since. He always comes over here and looks over my golf swing when I need him to. He's been a great friend. Freddie, if you're watching, thank you for all these years.
Dave Lightner, Dave has been a friend of mine as long as I've been with IMG and he's managed my finances, and I thank you for being a friend of mine, as well, Dave. Thank you.
To Clark Jones, the famous Clark Jones. What can I say about Clark Jones? Clark Jones is my manager for the last 12 years, some good, a lot of bad (laughter). Clark, thank you (laughter). I told you I was going to get you one day.
Joey D' is my trainer, my friend, my good friend, one of my best friends. I met Joey D' five years ago, and there was a few times in the mornings at 4:30 he comes and knocks on my door and says, "Come on, let's go." And I said, "It's still dark outside. It doesn't matter, you've got to do this." 4:30 and 5:00 o'clock in the morning, and thank God for Starbucks now because that's what he does, he brings me Starbucks and we drink coffee and go and work out. My success the last five years was a lot of hard work and a lot of Joey's hard work, as well. He took me to the gym and got me physically fit, and without him I don't think it would have been possible to do what I did in the last five years. Joey, thanks for being a friend, too.
So many fans and friends around the world. I've played all over the world and there's so many friends that I met, even some of them come up to me and say, "Remember me, 1988 when you played at such-and-such club," and I say, "Yeah, sure, I remember." So many of them do that, and they follow my career, and it's not very difficult to recognize me nowadays.
I appreciate that, and the fans all over the world. I think without the fans, there wouldn't be any golf. I think they mean a lot to the game, and even in this country the fans make the difference, and I thank you.
Two very important persons in my life. One was important 16 years ago, Qaas, my son. He's probably one of the most important things that ever happened to me. He's the joy of my life. He grew up too fast, I think, and now he hits the ball longer than me, and I'm just so happy to be his dad, and I'm very, very proud that I have such a son, and I'm sure we're going to have many, many great years together, Son.
There's one person that I have not forgotten but I'm going to mention now, my wife Ardena. We met some 25 years ago like I said at the driving range in Fiji, started outside and -- you know (laughter). She traveled everywhere with me, she traveled to Australia, to Asia, to Europe, was in Borneo with me, one little bedroom which was also a living room and also a bathroom and also a kitchen. So we did that for two years, went to Europe and had our beautiful son, and here we are in America.
Honey, if there's anybody in this world that needs to share this award with me, it's you. I think this award is as much mine as it is yours. Thank you (applause).
Thanks again to golf. I think without golf, golf took me to so many wonderful places and has brought me over here and met all you beautiful people, and I'd just like to say thank you. Without this game I don't think I -- I'd probably be still in Fiji, and God knows what I would have been doing.
To the selection committee for voting me into the Hall of Fame, I really, really am proud of this, and I think this is one of my biggest achievements in life and something that I will take to bed forever. I can't say enough. I'm really proud and I love this game.
Thank you very much. Good night (applause).
GEORGE LOPEZ: Ladies and gentlemen, Vijay Singh (applause).
Tonight has been a celebration of the achievements of five outstanding individuals who have achieved so much for their sport but have also given back to their communities, their families, the students and to all of us tonight. Five new chapters have been added to the story of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and their legacies now will be reserved for future generations and for millions of visitors to come because as Gary Player and Arnold Palmer say, "If you love golf, you gotta go."
Again, please join me in saluting the inductions of Mr. Mark McCormack, Mr. Larry Nelson, Mr. Henry Picard, Marilynn Smith and Mr. Vijay Singh into the world golf hall of game. They have achieved golf's highest honor (applause).
On behalf of the World Golf Hall of Fame and its more than 200 volunteers, thank you for attending tonight's ceremony. I'm George Lopez. Thank you very much, everybody, and goodnight.
End of FastScripts