If it involves Colin Montgomerie, chances are there’s drama involved or a row brewing between him and another player or the American fans. Well, Monty, who dominated the European Tour in the ’90s and was one of the most winning players in the Ryder Cup with a record of 20–9–7, will join Fred Couples, Willie Park Jr., Ken Venturi and Ken Schofield, as inductees of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s class of 2013.
The results of the International ballots were revealed on Tuesday morning by the WGHOF. Similar to the U.S. ballot, no player received the minimum 65% of the vote, so the criteria is lowered to 50%.
Montgomerie earned 51% of the vote–the bare minimum–just like Couples on the U.S. ticket. Schofield, the former First Secretary and Executive Director of The European Tour, was selected in the Lifetime Achievement Category.
Is Monty deserving of the HOF nod? Most certainly, but it’s weird to “lower the standards” for voting criteria when a player doesn’t receive 65% of the vote. Do they have to induct someone every year? If you don’t meet the original criteria, I don’t think “next best” is necessarily a valid reason for a player to get inducted.
There’s the glaring gap on Monty’s resume, but his other accomplishments and contributions to the game compensate for his lack of major victories.
Monty could be inducted based purely on his mannerisms and ability to stir controversy. The criteria I always use for whether or not someone belongs in the Hall of Fame is asking myself whether I can tell the story of golf in the last 20-30 years without mentioning that player’s name. Well, Monty certainly has made his contributions to the game’s history.
The Scot clinched a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles, including a streak of seven in a row from 1993 to 1999. He’s won 31 times on the European Tour, the most of any British player and fourth on the all-time list.
However, he wasn’t able to snag the inevitable major, where he’s earned bridesmaids honors five times. He had his fair share of close calls and things just never went his way. He finished second at the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship, and then tied for runner-up at another two U.S. Opens.
Montgomerie also never notched a win on U.S. soil. It probably didn’t help that he was the target of American hecklers and didn’t make it easier on himself by responding grumpily. Monty never figured out how to appease the crowds and didn’t win them over, instead he acted brash and complained, which probably only exacerbated the hecklers. In the late 90s — a time when it was especially difficult for Europeans to compete in the US.– Monty played in a number of regular PGA Tour events. People don’t really own up to the extent of the heckling in the present day, but it was pretty brutal and Monty was target No. 1.
As it happened, the Ryder Cup became Monty’s major.
He excelled in the biennial matches against the United States. In 8 appearances on the European Ryder Cup team, Monty never lost a singles match. He recorded a total of 23.5 points for the European team as the third all-time scorer, behind Nick Faldo (25) and Bernhard Langer (24). When you talk about the Ryder Cup in the last several decades, it’s impossible not to mention Monty. He’s near the top in nearly every category for all-time bests.
Of course, he captained the victorious Europeans in Wales in 2010. Since then, he’s voiced interest in giving it another go. Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke have the job locked up for the next two Ryder Cups, but maybe they’ll bring Monty back in 2018…? After all, it’s never too late, with the Americans naming Tom Watson the captain of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup squad. (Watson captained the Americans in their last win away from home in 1993.)
Monty falls under the category of best player without a major. Where does he rank on that list (of players who no longer are competing regularly)? I’m not sure — definitely in the top three. But there’s no question in belongs in the Hall of Fame. The announcement was made this morning, but I haven’t seen much grumbling on Twitter over Monty getting the HOF nod.
Meanwhile, when Couples, who also only secured 51% of the vote, got the nod from the WGHOF, it invoked some controversy over whether or not he was deserving. Couples has one major and two Players Championship titles, but most important, he was golf’s Mr. Cool in the late ’90s — in fact, he still is today.
So I guess this is the year and/or class of the 51%. What it comes down to: the WGHOF has turned into a popularity contest.
Here are the ballot results and the rest of the official announcement…
World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2013
World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum completes
Class of 2013 with Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield
European duo joins Couples, Venturi and Park Jr.
London (Dec. 18, 2012) – Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield share, as player and administrator respectively, a special affinity with both The European Tour and The Ryder Cup and they will be honored for their contribution to the game next year when they are inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum.
Montgomerie – elected through the International Ballot – and Schofield – selected through the Lifetime Achievement Category – will be honored along with fellow 2013 inductees Fred Couples, Willie Park Jr. and Ken Venturi at the Induction Ceremony on May 6, 2013, at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. The Ceremony will once again kick off THE PLAYERS Championship week.
George O’Grady, The European Tour Chief Executive, and Jack Peter, the Hall of Fame Chief Operating Officer, made the official announcement at a press conference attended by both Montgomerie and Schofield prior to The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Luncheon in London.
“This is a very special day for golf and for The European Tour,” O’Grady said. “Colin and Ken are unique individuals and their contribution to not only The European Tour, on and off the fairways, but also The Ryder Cup makes them both very worthy candidates for the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“Colin’s achievement in winning the Harry Vardon Trophy eight times, including seven in a row, took considerable talent, skill, imagination, endurance, physical strength and mental resilience. Any aspiring and ambitious golfer on The European Tour today craves the opportunity to win The Race to Dubai, which has succeeded the Order of Merit, just once – to do it eight times is universally viewed as a superhuman feat.
“Colin became European Number One for the eighth time in 2005 which, coincidentally, was the year I succeeded Ken. Unquestionably, Ken’s contribution to The European Tour is incalculable. His vision, passion and reservoir of knowledge established the foundations that we enjoy today and, like Colin, he has enthusiastically supported and taken enormous joy from Europe’s recent triumphs in The Ryder Cup.”
The accomplishments of both Montgomerie and Schofield have been recognized around the world.
“Ken and Colin are truly worthy of induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “These two men played huge roles in golf’s international development in the late 20th century. Ken provided more opportunities for top players to compete around the world, while Colin took advantage of these opportunities and set an unmatched standard of prolonged excellence on The European Tour.”
“Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield are outstanding ambassadors of the game,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Each has made vital contributions to golf’s global expansion. Colin’s achievements on The European Tour and the Ryder Cup have gained him fans worldwide, while Ken’s tireless work during his time at The European Tour created new innovations and tremendous international growth. Congratulations to both Colin and Ken on this well-deserved honor.”
Montgomerie dominated The European Tour in the 1990s, finishing Number One seven times in succession from 1993 and then capturing another Harry Vardon Trophy in 2005. The Scot turned professional in 1987, following his second Walker Cup appearance, and won 31 European Tour titles – a record by a British player – including three successive PGA Championships at Wentworth Club and, in total, 40 tournaments worldwide.
In eight successive Ryder Cup appearances from 1991, Montgomerie created a remarkable record of being unbeaten in the singles with a 6-0-2 mark, in addition to winning 9 1/2 points from 14 foursomes and 7 points from 14 fourballs. He then went on to captain the European Team, which regained The Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales, in 2010.
Montgomerie, who received the MBE in 1998 and then the OBE in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List, will be eligible to compete on the European Senior Tour when he celebrates his 50th birthday on June 23 next year.
“It is a wonderful surprise to hear that I will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next year,” Montgomerie said. “I know I am very fortunate to have enjoyed such a successful career playing the game I love and it makes me feel very proud that my achievements have been recognized in this way. While my eight Order of Merit wins were very special, as everyone knows my Ryder Cup experiences have provided the very best moments in my career and receiving this great honor is the icing on the cake. I am delighted that my dear friend Ken Schofield’s notable contribution to European golf will also be recognized at next year’s Ceremony and I look forward to sharing this special occasion with him.”
Schofield became First Secretary and Executive Director of The European Tour on Jan. 1, 1975, succeeding John Jacobs. When he took the helm, The European Tour comprised 17 official events with an official prize fund of €599,084. When he retired at the end of 2004, there were 45 official events with official prize money of £106,010,654, in addition to 29 European Challenge Tour events and 21 European Senior Tour events. Schofield initiated global expansion for the game when he took The European Tour outside of the European continent for the first time in 1982 with the playing of the Tunisian Open. That began a structure whereby the Tour positioned itself internationally – co-sanctioned tournaments with other Tours now total 164 since the inaugural one in South Africa in 1995 – with more opportunity and incentive for the players in first the major championships then the World Golf Championships.
Since his retirement Schofield, born and raised in Perthshire, Scotland, where he became, at 23, Scotland’s youngest bank manager, has become an integral part of The Golf Channel’s broadcast team at The Ryder Cup and major championships. He also served for five years as President of The Golf Foundation, of which a founding member was Hall of Fame member Sir Henry Cotton, prior to being succeeded by Montgomerie. He is also on the board of several companies and organizations and was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1996.
“I am delighted not just for myself but also for The European Tour,” Schofield said. “This is an honor for absolutely everyone who in the last 40 years helped the Tour become what it is today. For me it is quite unexpected and I am both delighted and humbled that I should be given a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum in the company of so many great names who have together contributed to making the game of golf so special in our lives.”
With the new Class set, the Hall of Fame will now focus on the Induction Ceremony on May 6, 2013.
“Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield will be excellent additions to the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum,” Peter said. “The Class of 2013 is a wonderful snapshot of the rich, international history of the game. We look forward to celebrating all of the achievements of this distinguished group at the 2013 Induction Ceremony.”