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November 2, 2009

Seve Ballesteros

Jim Nantz

Christy O'Connor

Jose Maria Olazabal

Arnold Palmer

Lanny Wadkins


THE MODERATOR: Well, absolutely no better words describe our first inductee tonight. The second Spaniard to earn his spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ten years ago his fellow countrymen and close friend, Seve Ballesteros, was inducted into the Hall.
Determination and courage, something that each of these men share. Fans worldwide have been concerned with seven Seve's health and well-being as he's battled cancer since last fall. Although he dearly wanted to be here tonight, his doctors requested that Seve be with us via video shot from his home in Spain.
45-time European Tour winner and five time Major Champion, World Golf Hall of Fame member, Seve Ballesteros.
SEVE BALLESTEROS: I'm very happy. Jose Maria Olazabal is a good friend of mine. I think he deserve to be inducted into the World Hall of Fame because he's been a terrific professional, tremendous dedication, and because his personal record speak for himself.
Olazabal is very well recognized in Spain as one of the top sportsmen for Spain. For Spain that means great recognition in the world of golf, and it's fantastic. So it's a future legacy, obviously he's did a tremendous job to develop the game of golf in Spain, tremendous support for the European Tour, tremendous help in the Ryder Cup. He's done a lot over the world.
In the Ryder Cup we play many times together, and at Muirfield Village, the Nicklaus course, on the 18th hole I have to putt from four feet and all we need to do is two putts, and so we start reading the putt and he said, Right lip. I said, Right lip, yeah, looks good. He said several times, Be careful, it's very, very fast.
So I take over and I hit the putt and I hit it a little left and the ball start to -- speeding up and went by the hole about maybe ten feet and I say, Oh, my God, it's unbelievable how fast this putt. He said, How many times did I tell you that that was really fast? He said, Don't worry, relax, relax, I make this one for you. So he changed the putt and he holed it and that was the end of the story.
He's a tremendous competitor. He was fantastic to have someone behind you that you have the confidence that your putting is never going to leave you alone.
Jose Maria, congratulations for all what you've done in golf. Now that you are inducted into the World Hall of Fame, you know, I think we must understand everybody that you will become one of the best in the history of the game of golf.
Congratulations, well done, and enjoy this special moment, and from me, receive a big hug and enjoy this special moment with your family and your friends.
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, thank you very much. Well, obviously it's a very special day for me. First of all, I want to thank all the former Hall of Famers for being here today. Thanks, everyone, ladies and gentlemen, for being here today on such a special day for me. What a day. It has arrived, and it's been a very special one.
I spent a couple of hours at the Hall of Fame looking at all the artifacts, all the history of the game of golf and getting to know better the history of all the great champions that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame and also getting to know the history of players, of people that have done so much for the game of golf, like Bob Hope.
At this time, I would like to thank all the people of the international, both (indiscernible) for allowing me to be part of a special place. It's truly a great honor for me to be part of it, and I'm really thrilled about it.
Thanks. I would like to tell you a little story about a boy, a boy that the day before he was born his mom put the first nine flags on the front 9 of an 18-hole golf course. When he was two, somebody gave him a putter and a ball and told him to put that ball in one of the holes.
He realized that that ball could go in the hole from three feet, from ten feet, and every now and then even from 70 feet.
A few years passed away and he marvelled at all the things that the white ball could do up in the air. It could fly high. It could fly low, from right to left. From left to right. And he thought: Well, this is a lot of fun. And he decided to keep on playing the game of golf.
One day when he was 16 he approached his parents and said, Mom, Dad, I want to become a golf professional.
You should have seen the look on their faces. They were petrified. How on earth a farmer's son can come up with such a decision. They looked at each other. They looked at the son and said, Son, if that's what you want, so be it, but under one condition: You have to finish school.
So the deal was sealed. He kept on playing golf. He finished school, and he turned professional. He went to qualifying school. And on his first year he won two tournaments. And from then on he went through the ups and downs of golf, through the highs and lows of life, but he lived a life with emotions and he even managed to have quite a successful year.
That boy is a grown man, and he's talking to you.
Thanks a lot. All I can say is that it has been a wonderful journey, a journey that I would do all over again without any hesitation.
Through golf I have met great champions, champions of all different generations: (Indiscernible) Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson. The list is long. I can go on if you want to. Greg Norman, Nicky Price, all the European stars, and all the modern stars.
And I have also met wonderful people, people that love the game and have done so many things for the game of golf. And to them all, thank you very much for making my life so much more special.
Golf has been a great teacher in life for me. It has teached me to be disciplined, that there is no shortcuts in life. You have to work really hard to achieve your goals. There are rules to be fulfilled: To be patient, to listen to the more experienced people, to be humble and, most important of all, to respect others, regardless of their background or where they come from.
But all of that would not have been possible without the help of many people. And I cannot thank them all today. The list is very long. But please allow me to thank the people that are really closest to my heart. All my coaches through my life, the team of coaches, of my home golf club that taught me the basics of golf. Later John Jacobs who kept things truly simple, very effective.
Later in my career a person that you all know, his name is Butch Harmon.
Butch, I know you're here somewhere. I don't see you, but I know you're here. Thanks for all your help. Thanks for being the way you are, and, most important of all, thanks for being here today such a special day for me.
The next couple is one I met when I was 14 years old. They have been with me ever since. They've traveled all around the world with me, and they have supported me through all these years. I love them to death. They are Sergio Gomez and his wife, Maite. Speaking Spanish.)
The next couple is even a little bit more special. They brought me into this world. They are truly humble, and they have shown me how to enjoy the small things in life. They've made a lot of sacrifices so their children could have a better start in life. They don't speak a word of English, and please allow me to thank them in my native language. (Speaking Spanish.)
There's one more person that I want to thank, and that is my dear friend Seve.
He deserves it. He gave me a call when I was 15 years old. Not many people know this, and he gave me a call and asked me to play in a match, in a charity match against him at his home club in Pedrena. And I said yes without knowing the implications of that answer in my future career.
Something happened really special -- something really special happened that day. I don't know what it was, but it was truly special. Because a few years later I played in my first Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village. I was a 21-year-old boy, and the captain, I guess, didn't know what to do with me.
And Seve approached the captain, Tony Jacklin, and said, Tony, I will play with Oly. And the rest is history. I was never a genius like you, Seve, but I did the best I could. And as my mentor, all I can hope for is that you're proud of me.
28 years ago you opened a circle and somehow that circle closes today. I want to thank you for all the wonderful memories you have given me and for all you have done for the game of golf.
To finish, I would like to say that through all these years I have come to realize that it doesn't matter how good of a golfer you are or how great your achievements are, the game of golf is always the winner, and all we can do is to honor this wonderful game.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much and don't forget that life can truly be wonderful. Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: No doubt there are many Irish eyes smiling tonight. A few of them here, and many more across the pond. At 84, Christy is really royalty of Ireland's ancient game known by just one word, himself. Reports are he has slowed only slightly over the past few years and is still very involved with the Royal Dublin Golf Club where at the began 50 years this year as its professional.
It was at the dinner to honor Christy for that milestone during the Irish Open this spring that his induction was announced with many of his friends and family present.
Presenting Christy O'Connor for induction this evening is his nephew, Christy O'Connor, Jr., who followed in his uncle's footstep by playing on the European Tour for 21 years.
Joining us tonight from Dublin, Ireland, please welcome Christy O'Connor, Jr.
CHRISTY O'CONNOR, JR.: Mr. Palmer, ladies and gentlemen, members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, I cannot believe -- I have to pinch myself that I'm actually standing here.
Coming from the same little village as my dear uncle in Knocknacarra in the West of Ireland, a small fishing and farming village, and to think one day that I would be standing here in front of all of you people, I hope it's true.
Before I go any further, the man himself who I spoke to in the last hour was so sad he couldn't be with you all here today. Believe you me, he's a great traveler of the world and he would have given anything, but he was a little scared of the length of flight and he wished me to tell you all how sorry he is for not being here.
He also wished me to tell you all how proud he is and how proud he has made us of being inducted into the World Hall of Fame. My little village tonight will be on fire in the West of Ireland.
But there will be no prouder people than his own family, his wife, Mary, of 55 years; his daughter Anne Marie; his daughter Marguerite and her new husband, Jerry, who are here with me tonight.
His daughters, Trace and Joan (phonetic), and his twin sons Peter and Christopher, their partner's wives and children are so proud of their father and granddad as I am. He's been a fantastic inspiration to me and my family. He took two of my brothers, along with me, under his wings and put us through the PGA and gave us what we are today.
I owe him a massive, massive amount of gratitude, and tonight I hope I make up for it in some way.
There are lots of different ways about Christy that people don't know. Because we're Irish we like a little tip-it now and again, and we do enjoy it, and a little sing-song, and no more does anybody like it than him, and he would often ask me to sing him a little song.
The late Bob Hope, God rest him, was a great friend of Christy's, and he used to come to my golf course in Galway and he would ask me to sing Galway Bay. I'm not going to sing it tonight for you guys. He would say to me, Christy, sing that lovely song again, but don't start at the beginning; I like the bit in the middle.
And he introduced me to so many people around the world. It was quite unbelievable. And to think to play 10 Ryder Cups coming from that little village is quite fantastic.
There was another side to him, a very, very kind side. All our lives are troubling sometimes. I unfortunately lost my son, one of my sons. But you find when you call Christy and he comes to your home in those terrible times, for some reason Christy can make it better. I don't know how. I have no idea.
I'm sure he's churning inside but he never showed it. He's been quite unbelievable to me on many, many occasions.
He's a wonderful man for charity. He raised millions of pounds for sick children in Our Lady's Hospital in Dublin. He's so kind to his family. There's no Sunday that passes by, by the way, you'd love this, that there won't be 10 or 15 people that come for dinner and he pretends he's giving out, you know, because of the cost of the dinner and the wine, and he loved it.
Well, I'm here tonight and I'm the proudest person in this world to represent Christy Sr. But don't let me hold you up to what he has to say for himself, the great Christy O'Connor. Thank you very much indeed.
CHRISTY O'CONNOR, SR.: George O'Grady rang me from London and I thought at the moment that somebody was playing a big joke on me. It didn't dawn to me for a moment that I was good enough to have that honor, which is one of the great honors in the world.
A few days afterwards Jack Peter came along. He said, I'm over here to invite you into the Hall of Fame. So I said, Well, now it's not a joke. I know this is quite all right.
I would like to thank all these people who voted for me. I would like also to thank all the people who have got in touch with me since this was announced. As a matter of fact, I've been walking on air since this has happened.
It's been a great thrill for me to have this at my age now, 22 (indiscernible). I think that maybe I would have liked to have had it a little earlier, but the fact is that this is as good as at any time.
Golf has been good to me. I've had opportunities that I wouldn't have gotten in anything else. I've traveled a good part of the world on several occasions playing golf.
This alone was a great experience to meet other people, to see how they behaved, how they played golf. And I enjoyed it, I must say. I was so lucky in my life. I had good health up to a certain time of my life. I was very strong. I kept myself very fit. Of course, if you're doing 36 holes a day, giving six or seven lessons a day at the same time, that does keep you fit.
I'm very sad that I can't be in the States, because I would love to be there. And there's a lot of friends who will be disappointed that I'm not there. But, then again, health is something that you have got to look after.
I don't want to go to someplace and feel that I've let myself down or leave the people who would be good enough to have me there to let them down. That would be the worst thing for me in the world.
So, friends, I'm so sad that I can't be with you. I hope that everybody and all my friends there will have a magnificent time, and, once again, to get the honor that I'm receiving, I wish them great health, great golf, and a long life.
THE MODERATOR: Golf was never far from Dwight Eisenhower's mind whether the world was at peace or at war. Bob Hope loved telling the story about meeting his friend Ike for the first time in North Africa in 1943 while Hope was doing a series of shows for U.S. servicemen serving in the General's command.
Eisenhower's first words were: How is your golf?
Following the war, Eisenhower was honored for his service. The R&A offered him a coveted lifetime membership, which he gratefully accepted. In 1958 the Eisenhower trophy, still given to the World Amateur Team Championship winners, was named for him. And engraved on the trophy, the following words: This trophy is given to foster friendship and sportsmanship among the peoples of the world.
President Eisenhower fostered both throughout the years with our next guest this evening. He pays tribute to his friend Ike on behalf of the Eisenhower family. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Arnold Palmer.
ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you. Oh my. I am very impressed by a lot of things that are happening tonight. And, Jose, you are wonderful. That was certainly one of the great remarks that I have heard.
And to be here tonight to honor Ola, Christy, Lanny and of course Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it's a pleasure for me to be able to talk a little bit about my friend President Eisenhower, Ike, if you wish, or The General. He was all of those things.
And of course for eight years he served as our president. And what a great job he did there, after being an American soldier and fighting as he did for us and leading to victory. You know, he played golf kind of like that, too.
He went out and he played the game like it was something that he wanted to do and wanted to do well.
I remember very well an incident we had. We were playing golf in a Heart Exhibition in Philadelphia at Merion Country Club and he said to me, Arnie, he said, You gotta help me a little bit. And I said -- and let me preface this by saying that he asked me to call him Ike. So I'm not showing any disrespect for the fact that I used that term when I'm talking about him.
But he said, Arnie, he said, You know, I need to get a little more power into my shots. And I said, Well, let's see you hit a couple of balls. And we were on the practice tee and he was hitting them. I said, Okay, Ike, Mr. President, and that's kind of the way the conversation went a lot of time, You need to keep your right elbow in just a little closer to your right side when you're hitting those shots.
And he said, Really? I said, Yes, sir. And you people know the generals in our Army all wore their belts around to the right side where the buckle was right on the right side. And, long story short, we played and we had a great day and he had a lot of fun. And he enjoyed everything he did.
And I saw him hit a couple of pretty good shots. And then all of a sudden we were walking up the 18th fairway, and I looked at his right side. And there was blood all over his slacks and his shirt. He had kept his right elbow in pretty close and the buckle had torn the skin off of his arm.
In 1958, and of course this is sort of backing up a little, I was playing in the Masters and I didn't know this was happening but I soon found out that the President of the United States had called Cliff Roberts and he said, Mr. Roberts, this is Ike. He said, You know, it would be great if I could come down and play with the champion of the Masters this year. Could you arrange that?
Cliff Roberts said, Well, he said, Let's see. We don't know who that's going to be. And the President said, Well, I understand that. If you wouldn't mind, and if he would play, he said, I'd love to play with him on Monday.
Well, I happened to be the guy that was lucky enough to win that Masters. And when I finished and walked off the green and got some of the business settled of winning the Masters, Mr. Roberts came up to me and said, Arnie, how would you like to play with the President of the United States tomorrow?
I looked at him and I said, You're kidding, aren't you? He said, No, that would be something that he has wished. And I said, It's something I wouldn't mind doing. I think I can arrange my schedule for him.
And it turned out that it was perfect. The next day I had the opportunity to play with the President of the United States. And let me tell you that I played golf with a lot of people and first-timers, you know. And usually you can figure that if you play a round of golf with someone you'll know them pretty well after that round of golf.
I never realized how true that was. We played a round of golf after the Masters and I suppose it was one of the exciting things in my life up to that time, having played a lot of golf, playing with the President of the United States and having a conversation with him was like something that I think you golfers understand. But I'm not sure that I realized how great that was, because after 18 holes we became great friends, and how do I know that? Well, it lasted until his death, and some of the things that happened over those years were things that were unbelievable.
And the things that he did to promote the game of golf, I can recall when he went out and did things to attract attention to the game. And that's why we're here tonight, to honor him for what he has done and what he has contributed to the game.
I think about it and I guess Ike was the kind of a guy that he would discuss -- he would sit down and we would talk and talk about things that he did, but he would always want to go back to talking about golf and how much it meant to him to be able to play golf and to be able to be a part of the game of golf and how important it was to take the stress and the strains away from his normal life.
After he played golf quite a bit and he got to where he was playing pretty well and then all of a sudden he had a health problem and his heart wasn't good and the doctors told him that he would have to slow down and not play so much golf, and I remember so well some of the things that happened in our relationship, and that was that he would call and he would say, Arnie, come over and talk to me a little bit, will you? He said, We'll have a beer and talk about golf a little bit. And he loved it. He absolutely enjoyed that part of the time in his life.
I can remember on my 37th birthday, Winnie, my wife, got an idea. She didn't tell me what the idea was. But she said later -- she said, You know, I thought about something, and she called Mamie. And we had spent time with Mamie and Ike through the years. Do you suppose Mamie and Ike would come for a birthday party? It turned out she pulled it off. And I was about to go to the club to play golf that day and there was a knock on the door, and I walked out and who is standing there in his leather jacket but President General Ike, and he looked at me and sort of grinned a little and he said, You suppose you could put an old man up for the weekend?
That's the kind of guy Eisenhower was. He was just one of the great people of all time in telling you how he felt and what he wanted to do, and, of course, we had a fantastic weekend.
We spent the time on the golf course and at the club. And when he came he brought something that -- this is a little extra. He had done a painting of his farm in Gettysburg, and he brought that with him and gave it to me, and let me tell you that that painting has been in my house ever since and is now here in the Hall of Fame for the Eisenhower exhibit which will be coming in and you'll have an opportunity to see it.
I also had the good fortune to have his caddy from Gettysburg give me his golf clubs that we used to -- that he used when we were playing golf. And they are here also and will be in the Hall of Fame.
And I must say that my relationship with Eisenhower is one of the great relationships that I have ever had in my life, and I can't tell you what a gentleman and what a pleasure it was being with him.
And tonight I'd like to say to his great-grandson, Merrill Atwater -- are you here, Merrill? Here he is right here.
On behalf of the Eisenhower family it's a great pleasure for me to have had this opportunity. I think that what President Eisenhower did for this country, for the world is something that will go on and on for many, many years. What he did for the game of golf certainly rates him as one of the highest contributors of the game and bringing attention to the game of golf around the world.
He's a friend. He's a friend of America. He's a friend of the world. And I certainly am happy to induct him into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Nearly 100 items in the Hall of Fame in Lanny's exhibit, the amazing collection of money clips, medals, trophies and the nine golf bags from his Ryder Cup odyssey.
A native son of Richmond, Virginia, will stand before us tonight to take his rightful place in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
After Lanny's nearly two decades as part of U.S. Ryder Cup teams, he joined with our next speaker in the broadcast booth at CBS from 2002 to 2006.
Here to present Lanny Wadkins for induction, please welcome CBS sports host, Mr. Jim Nantz.
JIM NANTZ: Oh, my goodness. What a night this has been. Under a full moon, by the way. Did you notice? It's been incredible. If you're as hopelessly in love with golf as much as I am, this is pretty spectacular. And thank you Jose Maria, for leading us off, Christy, Arnold.
It's such an honor to present our next inductee. I've always felt that moments like these are just rich with nostalgia and dripping with poignancy. And you can't help but take an amazing occasion like this and realize what it took to get here today for the Hall of Famers.
I first met Lanny over 20 years ago in the broadcast tower at Greensboro's 15th hole. I was kind of new there at CBS at the time. And Lanny had hit a poor third shot into the par 5. And minutes later I had this odd, strange sensation; I felt the scaffolding beginning to quake. And, much to my astonishment, I turned around and saw that Lanny, in full spikes, in the middle of competition had climbed the 15 steps to my little office.
Excited that he would go out of his way in the middle of competition to come over and welcome me to the PGA TOUR, I took off my headset only to hear Lanny say, You tell Chirkinian the next time one of your audio guys moves in the middle of my backswing he's going to have a sand wedge buried in his (coughing).
Kind of a strange introduction, I felt, but one that typified Lanny. Unfailingly blunt, honest, aggressive, always in a hurry, whether it was to hit his next golf shot or to gain his rightful inclusion into this sacred Hall. He's always been anxious.
I'm thinking, though, how much and how long Lanny has deserved this recognition tonight. I'm also thinking about two things I've heard him say so many times. We all have this kind of floating through our heads, thoughts, wishes. I've heard Lanny say so many times: Boy, I wish my dad were alive to see this. I heard him many times say: I wish my boys, Chad and Tucker, had a chance to see me in my prime.
Lanny's father was a prideful man who loved his boys, Lanny and Bobby, and his daughter Ann. He was driving a truck for a living when Lanny learned how to play the game. During the week he was on the highway for Blue and Gray Transportation, and the weekends were all about any activity in which he could involve his kids.
Lanny at age six would pull his dad's pull cart so that he could spend time with the man he idolized. And by ten, well, he was playing the game at such a high level they were writing about him in Richmond.
He was breaking 80 at the age of 10. So notable that when he did that at Meadowbrook country club, the Richmond Times Dispatch wrote a story about it. A picture ran in the paper. There was Lanny. There's the picture. Standing next to his golf bag, the bag bigger than the boy.
Still the case, too, by the way.
I realize he gets the mic last, so I better be careful. His dear mother, Frances, and his dad, Jerry, they knew that both of their sons were gifted and determined. And I know all the stories.
One I'm thinking about, it's kind of hard to believe today that they would do this, but this is a different era.
Thinking about the time they drove the boys from their home on Hopkins Road on the south side of Richmond to the downtown train station and sent them out for the first time to a great big world that they would both later travel and conquer. The parents putting them on an overnight train to Orlando, what, two hours down the road from here. Talk about things coming full circle.
Lanny was 13. Bobby was 11. The police chief of Orlando, Stony Johnstone, a family friend was waiting for them on the other end. They would stay with the police chief that week. There Lanny truly would arrive on the big stage for the first time at Rio Pinar when he won the National Pee-Wee Championship with rounds of 69 and 70 at the age of 13.
A few years later he would meet a PGA TOUR professional for the first time. It was a big occasion there in the Richmond area when he played an exhibition match at Country Club of Virginia with Arnold Palmer. He remembers beating his hero that day.
That's his memory, Arnold. Okay, I can't verify this, okay, details a little sketchy, but he was truly awestruck by just how powerful it was in the moment to meet you.
I'm thinking about how special, too, it was for him to not only meet Arnold at that time but head off to Palmer's Wake Forest University where he became a star as a freshman. He would meet up with a great man there, Coach Jesse Haddock, and friends and teammates like Jack Lewis and Eddie Pierce and Jim Simons and Leonard Thompson and Joe Inman. And by the end of his sophomore year he was winning virtually every amateur event that came his way: The Western, the Southern, the Virginia State Amateur in which he beat Curtis in the semifinals and his brother in the finals. The Richmond City Am. And of course the United States Amateur in Waverly Club in Portland.
The two were beckoned just a few months later, actually about a year later, and guess who set at the time the rookie money record. In fact he won as a rookie at the Sahara Invitational in Vegas.
And, Arnold, again, I'm sorry, you finished second on that occasion. It gets better for you here in a minute, by the way.
There would be 20 wins overall. Five more overseas. The biggest triumph, no doubt, the 77th PGA Championship at Pebble Beach. Lanny and Gene Littler in the first-ever Sudden Victory Playoff in Major Championship history, and there's Lanny jumping for joy on Pebble's third green.
You ask Lanny, though, the victory that maybe meant the most, and it really tells you something about the man, he probably would tell you it was the Disney back in 1985, because he was trying to win it for his daughter Jessica.
That Sunday final day was her 12th birthday, and Lanny started way back. He knew that all the Disney characters later in the day would be on the 18th green to present the check and trophy. He said to himself, Let me try to do the best thing a dad can do, and he shot 63 to take the title, and little Jessica got to celebrate with all those little characters at the end: Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and her father.
He actually wrote that line for me. He really did.
But Lanny has truly always loved to make dreams come true for his family. How incredible is it he got to share the game with his brother, and they got to go off into the world together and play the PGA TOUR and root and cheer each other on. It's beautiful.
He also loved representing his country. Two Walker Cups, the World Am, three World Cups and eight Ryder Cup teams. You can argue that Lanny might be the best American performer in Ryder Cup history. At the very least he's on the short list for that discussion.
His eight Ryder Cup appearances, well, that's tied for the most by any American, tied with Billy Casper and Raymond Floyd. His overall record was 20 wins, 11 defeats, three draws. One of the highest win percentages in Ryder Cup history.
When it comes to most Ryder Cup matches won on the U.S. side, Lanny finished tied-for-second all-time match wins to Arnold Palmer.
I told you.
Arnold with 22 wins, Lanny and Billy Casper with 20 each.
He made that team for the first time in 1977. He was told on the first tee at Pebble before that playoff commenced that the winner was going to get an automatic spot.
He would go from that 77 Ryder Cup team through 1993, played for the United States team every year except once, when a thumb injury kept him out.
By the way, something I always felt was very underplayed, in 1993, at the Ryder Cup, his last as a player, Sam Torrance was injured for the singles match on the European side. And, per the rules, the Americans had to submit a name in an envelope to sit someone out at the match on their side.
Lanny went to his captain, Tom Watson, and said, Hey, I'm a captain's pick here. These other guys, they earned their way on the team. Put my name in the envelope. Lanny was 3-and-1 in the Ryder Cup before he took himself out of the match. Perhaps the greatest U.S. Ryder Cup player ever was credited with his last match a half-point draw for sitting out. What a magnanimous gesture by a truly great champion.
And by 1995, of course, he had the great honor of serving as the captain for his country.
I'm thinking about how meritorious tonight this Hall of Fame induction is for Lanny, because of his incredible amateur career, his decorated professional career, a major champion, a Ryder Cup star, but I'm also thinking about the Lanny Wadkins that many of you really never saw, the world never saw, from his days when I got to share the tower with him at CBS, where he was also outstanding: Blunt, honest, credible, very dignified.
I miss him. I'm remembering how much he hated during those days being away from his family and be wedded to a schedule set by someone else when he really his entire life would set his own schedule. I remember the most how he would make the phone calls right from the tower right before we go on the air. He would call Peni to make sure she was doing all right and invariably the boys, Travis and Tucker, would get on the phone and they would give their dad their shot-by-shot account of their golf from that day.
I remember how much it destroyed him not being there to watch it. I remember how much he longed to be there with them just like his dad had been there for Lanny and Bobby 40 years before. He wanted that symmetry.
Yes, I'm thinking about Lanny's love of family tonight. I'm thinking about his dedication to his friends, his unwavering belief in the finest traditions of this great game and his remarkable career. I'm thinking about that began with a little dream in Richmond, Virginia.
I'm thinking it's been a long time coming for Jerry Lanston Wadkins, Jr., to take his rightful place in the World Golf Hall of Fame with the best who ever played. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the Hall of Fame Lanny Wadkins.
LANNY WADKINS: Jim, I guess I should thank you for that, I'm not sure, but you know one of the thrills of my life was working next to Jim at CBS, and golf puts you around a lot of quality and wonderful people, and I don't think I've ever been around a finer human being than Jim Nantz. And to call him my friend, I'm very honored. And I'm honored he came here and did this for me tonight.
I think the thing that excited me the most was when I asked him to do this, he's just been so excited ever since. And I think that's reflected tonight. And it's okay he called me little; I'll get back at him. Somewhere down the line I'll get him. But he who laughs last. But it's great to be here. Thank you, Jim.
I want to start by thanking -- very quickly, I want to thank Jack Peter and Brodie Waters and the staff at the World Golf Hall of Fame. They have just made this an outstanding experience for my friends, my family, myself. And I've had the pleasure of working with different organizations. And, I mean, Julius Mason and Susan Martin at the PGA of America when I was Ryder Cup captain were off the charts.
And I've got to tell you, they're right in step with you guys, Julius, that it's an amazing organization here at the World Golf Hall of Fame and I just thank Jack and Brodie and their staff for everything they've done to make this a wonderful, wonderful week for us. Thank you.
I want to take a moment and congratulate the other inductees this evening. Christy O'Connor, I was blessed to be able to play enough tournaments in Europe that I got to see him play, and it was a treat. It was just a clinic every time I got to watch him on the practice tee. I felt like I was watching Sam Snead in Ireland and Sam was still over here. It was an absolute treat to watch Christy play, just a joy. And Jose Maria, a man that I played a lot against.
We talked tonight. We played a lot alike. And I think that's one reason we respect each other so much and had so much fun competing against each other, was we just played golf the right way. We played it hard and played it tough and wanted to win. There's nothing wrong with that.
And it was always an honor to compete against Jose Maria, and I want to congratulate him on being here this evening.
And then General Eisenhower, President Eisenhower. And it struck me as quite odd here a minute ago when the King was asking if he could call the President by his first name. Isn't that okay?
It should be. But General Eisenhower is a true hero. He's not only a hero for all of us golfers, but he's a hero to a generation of Americans, and a lot of us are sitting here thanks to what he's done, and we cannot ever thank him enough.
And speaking of heros, to join this World Golf Hall of Fame I'm having the chance to be a part of something that my heros are in. And as a kid growing up in Richmond, Bobby and I would hunt golf balls on the golf course to have balls to play with, and we could always find a ball that had Arnold's name or Sam Snead's name on it, and they were our heros.
And the first time I got to play with Arnold I was 17 years old. And one of my first heros I got to play with was Arnold. Later on, in 1974, we got to play together in the Disney Team Championship right down the road in Orlando. I got to play seven days in a row with Arnold Palmer as my partner. He asked me to play with him in that event.
I mean, I want you to stop and think about what could you sell seven days in a row for Arnold Palmer with. It was an incredible experience for me. An experience I'll never forget is being with Arnold there that day.
We almost got them, Arnie. We played tough that week. We were there. But it was great fun. And I think that's the thing, I got to be with so many heros, got to play with my heros.
And I go back to my very first Masters, 1970. I stayed in the Crow's Nest with Tom Watson. Hall of Famer. Great friend. That was a great experience myself. I got to play my first round at the Masters with Jackie Burke. I got to play my second round of the Masters that year with Gene Sarazen. Another hero. Hall of Famer. Played in the Masters with Gene Sarazen.
1972 I played in the U.S. Open the first two days. Julius Boros. Jack Nicklaus, who went on to win that week.
1973, I played in the U.S. Open with Ben Crenshaw, then an amateur, and Sam Snead. People I've gotten to play with, I've gotten to play with my heros. Where can you do that other than golf?
Golf, we just saw today how the Champions Tour, the people are still playing and competing. And I got to play with my heros growing up. And I don't think it's anything I'll ever cherish more in my life than being able to be with my heros and being so special. They're such good friends, good people and you learn from them and get to share your life with them, is something I'll treasure my entire life.
And to be part of a Hall of Fame with these men in it, I'm just honored beyond belief. It's something I never expected. I never started off playing golf to be in the Hall of Fame. I started off playing golf because I loved it. I wanted to compete. I wanted to win and I was always out there doing something that I really, really enjoyed, and to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame with my heros is just something that I'll cherish for the rest of my life.
You don't get someplace with this without a lot of help along the way. And I've got to thank first and foremost my parents, Jerry and Frances. They sacrificed so much for Bobby, Ann and myself to have the life that we had, for us to be able to play golf, compete and do all the things that we did. They worked very hard. There were weeks I would not see my dad. He would go to work before I got up and come to work after I had gone to bed. Just to give us a chance to enjoy the finer things in life.
And it was an experience that I've taken with me to this day. And I know a lot of people know that nobody has probably hit more golf balls than Bobby and I on the range, and I think we get our work ethic from our parents. They worked hard to give us a chance. And all we can do is say, Thank you, Mom. I'm so proud you're here.
I don't think there's ever been a successful PGA TOUR professional that didn't have a mentor, someone who took them over, and usually that was a PGA pro. Mine was Popeye Lumpkin at Meadowbrook Country Club, a wonderful PGA of America member who went out of his way to see that I had every advantage when it came to lessons and equipment that I could have as a kid.
He took Bobby and I under his wing and just really helped develop us into what we were as golfers and as gentlemen, and I appreciate that so much. I wish he was here today to enjoy this. But he was someone very special in our lives. And a man that I just -- I don't think I would be here without.
And then I kind of moved on from Meadowbrook, as I grew, and went on to Wake Forest, and I gotta say thank you to Jesse Haddock. Coach Haddock set me up at Wake Forest. I was there on the Buddy Worsham Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship started by Arnold in memory of his roommate who died in an automobile accident when they went to school together at Wake, and it was an honor to be on that scholarship.
Arnold started something at Wake Forest that a lot of us had continued follow, endowing scholarships and being involved in our university. I think it's one thing that he's proud of, that I'm proud of; that through Jesse and his mentorship, that we've all stayed involved at Wake Forest and we're very, very proud of what that university represents and the quality of people it's turned out of that program.
And that's a big thanks to Jesse Haddock.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Houston playing in a Champions Tour event and I had a day off and I was playing with a good friend of mine, Gordon Johnson, who was a pro at Houston Country Club. And as I've done more than I would like to lately, I got on a par 3 and kind of fanned it over to the right of the green short with a 4-iron, had a very tough pitch and played a nice little wedge, little 58-degree. Whipped it up, didn't think I could stop it short of the hole and I did.
Gordon looked at that and said, That's a shot you just can't teach. I said, Yes, it is, because Dick Harmon taught me that shot.
Dick Harmon taught me a lot of shots. Dick came into my life in 1985 as a friend and teacher, and I learned as much golf from him in a short period of time as I've ever learned in my life. And it was a true joy to be a part of the Harmon family, because when you knew one of the Harmons, you knew them all, from Claude down to Butch, Billy and Craig.
It's a wonderful family. And I really want to remember Dick here today. I miss him. He was a wonderful teacher and mentor.
I want to say a special quick thanks to a real good friend, Chris Walkey, who kept my game in a enough shape that I can at least try to compete with my boys these days. Chris has been a special friend and enabled me to go out and enjoy golf as best I can, which is not like it used to be, but it's still fun. And I try to give my boys a hard time.
And I do want to say a special thanks to one of my friends here this evening. I've got a wonderful group of friends that have been a part of my life for 30-plus years that have all met through me and through golf and they travel with me to tournaments. They've been to almost as many Masters as I have, maybe more, since I quit going, and they'd meet up at other tournaments just to be there for me and to enjoy golf.
And these guys are the kind of friends that they're not worried about you when things are going well; I get calls from these guys when things aren't going well. They want to make sure I'm okay. That's what a friend is. And I'm lucky and blessed that I have as many as I do.
And, guys, you know who you are, and thanks so much for being here. You're so special to me.
You know, part of being a success in life is looking at your family. And I'm blessed that I've had a terrific sister that's really cared about me and wonderful children.
My sister, Ann, was always a support for Bobby and I and helped everyplace she could when we were growing up. And I do appreciate everything she's done. And my daughter Jessica -- and Jim hit on one of my favorite things, it's one of my favorite pictures in the world is her on her 12th birthday when I won the Disney Tournament, right there.
I was the biggest character on stage that day, Jim, by the way. But it was great being there and having her as a daughter, and she and her husband, Chuck Greig (phonetic), and my grandson Charlie is here. I'm so proud of him and he's just a beginning golfer. I know we're going to have a lot of great days together.
Thank you. And my boys Travis and Tucker. They have taken up the love of the game as much as Bobby and I have. And I gotta tell you, nothing has warmed my heart more. Travis is a senior at our alma mater, Arnold, at Wake Forest, playing on the golf team, doing very well. Tucker is a 17-year-old, is a junior in Dallas. And they can both play.
And you've probably heard this story, when I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I made the comment that my youngest son, Tucker, has said, Dad, you know you're now the fourth best Wadkins. There's Uncle Bobby, there's Travis, then me and then you.
Well, with all the hard times I've given these boys over the years, I guess when I get with him I get it back in spades. And it sure comes.
But they're great. They keep me young, and they keep me wanting to play golf and play well so I can just take a little bit of money out of their pocket, which I did the other day.
The old men, Chuck and I will beat 'em. So it was good stuff.
I wouldn't be here tonight without my brother, Bobby. You know, from day one we've played more rounds of golf than most people ever experienced in a lifetime. I mean, we didn't always get along. We'd fall on the course, and I usually won the fights before he got bigger than me. Then we quit fighting. I was at least smarter there.
But he pushed me at every turn. He's a wonderful player in his own right. We've always been each other's biggest fans. And I know that I would not be here without him.
Thanks, Bobby.
And my partner for the past 30-plus years, my wife, Peni. I can only say thanks for putting up with me being gone so much and, you know, all I've got to do is look at what a great mother you've been, what a great grandmother you've been. Hard to believe you're a grandmother to these boys. And, I mean, you're Hall of Fame. And it's been a wonderful journey. We'll celebrate No. 31 in about nine days. So 31 years.
I love you and thank you so much.
I'm not the only one that has a love of history and tradition of the game, and I've spent a lot of time with a good friend of mine, a Hall of Fame member, Ben Crenshaw. And over the years Ben and I, we hit a certain city and we had a hero there, we'd go see him.
We'd go see Ben Hogan at Fort Worth. We'd see him at the Champions Dinner or we'd see him -- we loved to go watch him hit balls at Shady Oaks. And when we'd go to Shady Oaks, Hogan would see us coming, and as soon as he would see Ben, he'd start shaking his head: Ben, how could you have won Colonial? He said, You can't hit it straight. Now, Lanny, he should have won Colonial a bunch of times. He hits it straight. But you, you won Colonial.
He would shake his head and, You won it twice. It used to just drive Hogan crazy because Crenshaw hit it so crooked.
But he loved Ben. And he had a great sense of humor when he was around people he enjoyed.
And one of the things about being around your heros is seeing their real personality coming out. I was fortunate to be around Hogan enough to see that personality and enjoy his company.
One year we were in Houston and Ben and I decided to go see Jackie Burke over at Champions. We made the drive over and we walked into the pro shop at Champions. Before we say a word, Jackie sees us coming and he says, Boys, see this putter? And he holds up a mallet head putter he just took out of the rack. He said, Before I'm done -- you have to understand, Jackie's in his 60s at this point in time. He said, Before I'm done, they'll have this putter in a glass case with candles lit at both ends I'm going to win so much with it.
That's the optimism of a golfer: Always going to win, always going to get better. And I can only thank Jackie Burke and say that that's how I feel tonight.
I'm telling my boys that I've got a putter in my bag; they may not put it in a glass case and light candles at both ends, but by the time I'm done I'm going to climb the Wadkins ladder, boys, so watch out. I'm coming.
Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your evening.
THE MODERATOR: Lanny, that was terrific. A sincere congratulations to you and every member of the Class of 2009. How about one more round of applause for a phenomenal class.

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