World Golf Hall of Fame: A night of diversity, inclusion and honoring a generational player

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Tiger Woods becomes emotional during his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame Wednesday at the PGA Tour Global Home.
Tiger Woods becomes emotional during his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame Wednesday at the PGA Tour Global Home.

Tiger Woods reminded everyone, through tears of joy for the daughter who presented him to the World Golf Hall of Fame and tears of longing for the father who introduced him to the game, that family is the main reason he ascended to the pinnacle of the golf world, and why he battled back several times from personal issues and injuries.

A generation’s greatest player took his place in the Hall of Fame on Wednesday at the PGA Tour’s Global Home, capping a two-hour ceremony that also celebrated diversity by honoring two women pioneers in the game and the former Tour commissioner who parlayed Woods’ success into the formation a golf and character development initiative that has been embraced by every governing body of the game.

Woods, former commissioner Tim Finchem, LPGA star Susie Maxwell Berning and the late architect and golf developer Marion Hollins swelled the ranks of the Hall of Fame to 164 members.

Tiger Woods' daughter Sam smiles during her speech introducing her father at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday at the PGA Tour's Global Home.
Tiger Woods' daughter Sam smiles during her speech introducing her father at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday at the PGA Tour's Global Home.

“This an individual award,” said Woods, winner of 82 PGA Tour titles to tie Sam Snead for the most all-time, and 15 major championships, second only to his boyhood idol Jack Nicklaus. “But this actually is a team award. All of you have allowed me to be here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Woods received a 40-second standing ovation from a crowd that included 27 Hall of Fame members and a handful of current PGA Tour pros such as defending Players champion Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Billy Herschel, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson. Tour players asked about Woods this week at the Stadium Course while preparing for The Players have been emphatic: Woods either compelled them to take up golf, or motivated them to set their goals high.

Also present was Florida Gov. Ron Desantis.

Woods credits family, friends

Woods was introduced by his 14-year-old daughter Sam, who noted that her father made his final putt at the 2007 U.S. Open to finish in a disappointing tie for second, one shot behind winner Angel Cabrera, then flew from Pittsburgh to Orlando to be there for her birth – still wearing the golf clothes he had on at Oakmont.

“You may have lost something, but you won the greatest gift of all,” she joked.

Woods wouldn’t argue, for the daughter that was born and the son, Charley, who followed.

He also praised his mother, Kultida, his current girlfriend Erica Herman and numerous friends for celebrating with him during the good times – such as holding the title of the four major championship at the same time, being named PGA Tour player of the year 10 times or holding the No. 1 spot on the World Golf Rankings for a record 683 weeks – and the bad, which included a broken marriage, an arrest for driving while under the influence of medication, numerous back and knee injuries and a year ago at this time, laying in a hospital bed in Los Angeles after a horrific car crash, wondering if he would lose his right leg.

“I was able to play all around the world and chase after my dreams, my passions,” he said during his 16-minute speech. “I’ve had two amazing parents. I have amazing golf instructors, unbelievable caddies, friends I’ve had for a lifetime … mentors … who supported me in the toughest times in darkness and celebrated the high times.”

Putting for quarters, then dollars

Oddly enough, Woods didn’t mention his more than 100 worldwide victories, including two in The Players at the Players Stadium Course, which was just a few hundred yards behind him as he spoke, or his last major the 2019 Masters that few thought possible two years before when he could barely walk at times.

He did, however, take great joy in a story about winning quarters off other kids in putting contests at a scruffy, southern California municipal course. But that was out of necessity. His mother would give him 75 cents – 50 cents for a hot dog and 25 cents to call her to come to pick him up.

But a stubborn payphone often ate the quarter without giving Woods so much as a dial tone.

“If the payphone swallowed it, I had a backup,” he said. “That backup was putting contests, which led to skins games, which led to Dad asking, ‘why did you get more quarters?’”

Woods said his father Earl ordered him to stop playing for quarters. The next time he went to the course, he came home with his pockets stuffed with dollar bills.

“I told you not to putt for quarters,” Woods recounted about his father’s reaction. “I didn’t. I putted for dollars.”

Later, Woods' parents took out a second mortgage to he would travel around the U.S. competing in the top junior tournaments.

When Woods signed his first huge sponsorships deals with Nike and Titleist, his first order of business was to pay off his parents' home.

Finchem an innovator

Master of ceremonies David Feherty noted that the PGA Tour’s headquarters, which opened in February of 2021, might not exist without the contributions of Woods and Finchem.

That said, Feherty quipped, “if Hogwarts were designed by IKEA, it would look like this.”

Davis Love III of St. Simons Island, who presented Finchem, said of the Tour's commissioner from 1994-2016, "golf has never known a better friend."

In addition to launching the FedEx Cup, the World Golf Championships, the Presidents Cup and the Charles Schwab Cup -- all competitive platforms backed by lucrative TV deals that sent purses soaring to record levels, Finchem also started The First Tee, which annually provides golf, leadership skills and academic support to more than 3 million children and youth.

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem (left) is congratulated by Davis Love III of Ponte Vedra Beach on Wednesday after Finchem joined Love in the World Golf Hall of Fame at the PGA Tour Global Home.
Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem (left) is congratulated by Davis Love III of Ponte Vedra Beach on Wednesday after Finchem joined Love in the World Golf Hall of Fame at the PGA Tour Global Home.

Under Finchem's watch, the Tour also raised more than $2 billion in charity through its tournaments.

"I absolutely enjoyed my tenure at the PGA Tour," Finchem said. "There's nothing I would have liked to do better."

Fierce competitor and two pioneers

Berning, a three-time U.S. Open champion and 11-time LPGA winner, was called by presenter Judy Rankin, “a fierce competitor.”

But she said more than three decades as a golf instructor may have impacted more lives.

“Teaching has been her passion, and she has reached more people over a longer period of time,” Rankin said.

In a short, heartfelt acceptance speech, Berning noted with humor, addressing Woods directly, “as young as I am I won all my tournaments before you were born.”

She closed by saying, “golf has been so good to me.”

Hollins was inducted posthumously as the first female to design and development golf courses. She had a hand in Monterey Peninsula courses such as Pasatiempo, Cypress Point and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

She became a lifelong friend of Bobby Jones and offered inspiration for Jones and Alister MacKenzie in their design of Augusta National.

Hollins also won the 1921 U.S. Women's Amateur.

Susie Maxwell Berning gives her acceptance speech at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday at the PGA Tour's Global Home.
Susie Maxwell Berning gives her acceptance speech at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday at the PGA Tour's Global Home.

LPGA Tour and instructor Renee Powell was the first recipient of the Charlie Sifford Award, which will be presented annually by the World Golf Hall of Fame to honor those who have advanced diversity in golf.

Powell, who played in more than 250 professional tournaments and was the second African-American to play on the LPGA Tour, has been the head professional of the Clearview Golf Club in Ohio, which was established in 1946 by her father, William Powell, as the first U.S. golf course designed, built and owned by an African-American.

The club's Clearview Legacy Foundation also uses golf as a tool for educational resources for youth, minorities, veterans, seniors and other underrepresented groups.

"Our sport can only be really healthy when we are indeed diverse and inclusive of all people," Powell said.

Also honored with a newly-created Lifetime Achievement award were Peter Ueberroth, who joined Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood returning Pebble Beach to American ownership, and Dick Ferry, a long-time member of the PGA Tour Policy Board.

The ceremony was the first to be held on the First Coast since 2015 at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine. It has since been taken on the road to St. Andrews, Scotland, Pebble Beach and New York.

WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME

CLASS OF 2022

Tiger Woods: Is in a tie with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour titles at 82 and is second only to Jack Nicklaus in major championships with 15. ... Woods also won two Players Championships, three U.S. Amateurs, three U.S. Junior Amateurs, an NCAA title and 18 World Golf Championships. ... The only player to hold the title for all four majors at the same time. ... He won his fifth Masters in 2019.

Tim Finchem: PGA Tour commissioner from 1994-2016, a time period roughly approximating Woods career. ... Parlayed Woods' fame and the public's surge in interest in golf and the PGA Tour to launch The First Tee, the World Golf Championships and the FedEx Cup, and brought more enhancements and worldwide visibility to The Players Championship. ... Negotiated groundbreaking TV contracts and laid the ground work for the PGA Tour's move to its current headquarters building.

Susie Maxwell Berning: More than a quarter of her 11 LPGA Tour titles were majors, the 1968, 1972 and 1973 U.S. Opens and the 1975 Women's Western Open. ... Tended to win in dominating fashion, with seven of her titles coming by three shots or more. ... Won three consecutive Oklahoma state high school golf titles and played on the Oklahoma City University men's team.

Marion Hollins: Visionary golf course developer/architect and a standout golfer who won the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur and qualified for the tournament 15 times. She was a significant contributor to the development of the Monterey Peninsula, helping develop courses such as Cypress Point Club and Pasatiempo Golf Club. Later – in collaboration with Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie – she provided her influence on the development of Augusta National Golf Club.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Tearful Tiger: Introduced by his daughter Sam, Tiger Woods joins golf's greats