Monday, December 24, 2012

Phatboy Sports Sponsorship Colin Montgomerie's World Golf Hall of Fame induction an early Christmas gift

This being Christmas Eve, Colin Montgomerie has jumped the gun and already unwrapped a pretty sweet gift early, that being induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame instead of the lump of coal that many would give him.

Although I’ve never interviewed Monty one on one, I’ve fired questions to him during news conferences and found him to be engaging and witty, not the frumpy grump some have described from their own experiences.
Many fans also don’t like him, particularly those on this side of the Atlantic, where they came up with unflattering nicknames that needn’t be mentioned for reasons of good form.

That type of response to Montgomerie isn’t isolated to the new world. On a trip to Scotland a few years back, I visited a pub in Troon where the locals weren’t exactly kind to a lad who had spent so much time playing at the renowned and nearby Royal Troon.

Those are the ones who will protest Monty’s selection for the Hall of Fame, which belies the theory that hall of fame induction is a popularity contest, which came up when Fred Couples was selected earlier this year.

Freddie had the hair, the easy-going personality and the Boom Boom power to draw in fans of both genders and there’s something to be said for popularity in drawing eyes to the game.

On the golf course, Couples had 15 PGA Tour wins, including a major at the 1992 Masters and two Players Championships, and five international victories, not to mention eight wins on the Champions Tour, including this year’s Senior Open Championship.

Couples’ 15 overall wins is an admirable total, but not enough to warrant Hall of Fame selection in the minds of critics. The same goes for his one major, even if he did win a couple at Sawgrass.

In volume, Monty lowered the boom on Boom Boom, winning 31 European Tour titles, taking that circuit’s Order of Merit in seven consecutive years and eight overall, and 40 international events.

Montgomerie had an incredible Ryder Cup record that included eight consecutive events in which he went undefeated in singles. Continuing that success as a captain, he was at the helm for Europe’s 2010 victory at Celtic Manor.

Those are highlights from a magnificent career, but the points of contention about his induction for many are that he never won on the PGA Tour and never won a major. That last one, in particular, is a real sticking point for many.

Then again, do you deny Dan Marino a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame even though he never won the Super Bowl?

Argue the point all you want about team sport vs. an individual game such as golf, but should an otherwise outstanding career not be recognized? If Luke Donald or Lee Westwood finish their careers without a major, would you deny them solely for that reason?

Some people think so and Montgomerie got in on the International ballot with 51% of the votes in a weird system that usually requires 65% of the votes. If nobody gets 65%, a player with the most votes, as long as it’s more than 50%, is selected.

Couples also squeaked in at 51%, so neither received a ringing endorsement, which has left their selections open to criticism and will continue to do so for future inductees.

Couples’ nomination has opened the door for players with as many or more wins and majors, but majors may not even be an issue anymore now that Monty is going in.

That may stick in the craws of many, but these are precedents and the table has been set for the future. You can’t go back, once a new standard is set.


If it’s the World Golf Hall of Fame, is it really necessary to have an international ballot? Shouldn’t a player be inducted based on merit instead of where he or she is from, whether American or otherwise? The existence of this category gives the impression that those born outside the United States are outsiders. It seems strange with the global nature of the game these days ... Montgomerie isn’t the only Scot going into the hall of fame as former European Tour secretary and executive director Ken Schofield was named in the lifetime achievement category. Two-time British Open champion and course designer Willie Park Jr., and 1964 U.S. Open champ Ken Venturi, who went on to a successful broadcasting career, will also be inducted ... Toronto’s Albin Choi and Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., have been named Golf Canada’s outstanding male and female amateur golfers, based on the 2012 National Order of Merit. Kevin Kwon of Pitt Meadows, B.C., and Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., finished atop the CN Future Links junior boys and junior girls Orders of Merit, respectively ... Former NCAA champion James Lepp of Abbotsford, B.C., says he feels invigorated about competitive golf after making it to the final of the Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier, where he lost a close match to finish as runner-up. Lepp isn’t sure when he would return to competition. For one thing, he runs a golf business, Kikkor Golf, which he started when golf didn’t seem fun anymore ... Former Nationwide Tour player Brennan Webb of Bracebridge, Ont., has accepted an assistant coaching position with Georgia Tech.

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