Little known facts about the World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Tuesday night is the culmination of the trip down memory lane for the members of the World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2017, when Lorena Ochoa, Meg Mallon, Davis Love III and Ian Woosnam, along with the late British journalist Henry Longhurst, are formally inducted during a ceremony in New York City. Since learning that they were swelling the Hall of Fame ranks to 155 honorees last October, each living member of the class has gotten to retell the highlights of their careers. While their accolades and triumphs have become well documented, some lesser known parts of their careers have also risen to the surface, helping rounds out the individuals and their accomplishments. With that, here are some facts that perhaps only die-hard fans would know about the fivesome.
LORENA OCHOA, 35, Mexico 30 professional wins (27 on the LPGA) 2 majors (2007 Ricoh Women’s British Open, 2008 Kraft Nabisco)
• Ochoa’s talent was known from an early age; she won the first of five straight Junior Worlds age group titles at age 8 in 1990. • As an Arizona undergrad, Ochoa bought her first car, a 1989 Honda Civic hatchback for $2,000. Having never had her own automobile, she didn’t comprehend it needed more than gas until one day the engine didn’t start. Says Ochoa: “How was I suppose to know about oil?” • In two seasons of college golf at Arizona, Ochoa played in 20 college events and competed against more than 2,000 individual golfers, with only 16 beating her. She won 12 titles, finished second six times, third once and T-9 in her only start outside the top three. • Before her surprise decision to retire at age 28, after playing only seven years on the LPGA Tour, Ochoa had played in 183 LPGA events, missing the cut in just six while posting top-three finishes in 63 (34.4 percent) and top-10s in 113 (61.7 percent). • In April 2007, Ochoa became the first Mexican golfer, male or female, to be ranked No. 1. She would hold the honor for 158 straight weeks, the longest streak in women’s golf. • In 183 career LPGA starts, she missed just six cuts, had 63 top-three finishes (34.4 percent) and 113 top-10s (61.7 percent). • In 2007, Ochoa won $4.3 million on the LPGA Tour, breaking the previous single season record set by Annika Sorenstam by more than $1.5 million.
MEG MALLON, 54, U.S. 20 professional wins (18 on the LPGA) 4 majors (1991, LPGA Championship, 1991 U.S. Women’s Open, 2000 de Maurier Classic., 2004 U.S. Women’s Open) 8 Solheim Cup appearances (as well as being captain of the 2013 U.S. team)
• In her first year on the LPGA Tour, 1987, Mallon made just just three cuts and earned money in only two events before having to return to LPGA Q school. • Lorena Ochoa’s last win came at age 28. Mallon’s second win came at age 28 with her last coming at age 41. • Mallon’s final-round 65 to win the U.S. Women’s Open title at The Orchards remains the lowest closing round in the championship’s history. • With 13 years between her two U.S. Women’s Open titles, Mallon holds the record for longest time victories.
DAVIS LOVE III, 53, U.S. 36 professional wins (21 on the PGA Tour) 1 major (1997 PGA Championship) 6 Ryder Cup appearances (twice was U.S. captain in 2012 and 2016) 6 Presidents Cup appearances
• Born in 1964, Love carried coins while playing on tour that had the year 1964 on them. (He also said 64 was a good golf score.) When fans became aware of the superstition, they began giving him 1964 coins for good luck. • Love has a portion of Interstate 95 named after his in Georgia. • With his victory at the 1997 PGA Championship, Love became the last player to win a major using a persimmon driver. • Love played in his 30th PGA Championship in August. Only four golfers (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Raymond Floyd) have played in more. • Love holds the PGA Tour record for the second longest recorded drive, hitting one 476 yards at the 2004 Mercedes Championship at Kapaulua. • While never reaching No. 1, Love was in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking for more than 450 weeks in his career.
IAN WOOSMAN, 59, Wales 52 professional wins (29 on the European Tour, on 2 PGA Tour) 1 major (1991 Masters) 8 Ryder Cup appearances (as well as being captain of the victorious 2016 European team)
• Just 5-foot-4 but one of the game’s bigger hitters in his prime, Woosnam credits working on his family farm—particularly bailing hay—for his strong physique and subsequent distance off the tee. • After turning pro in 1977, Woosnam spent his early years on the European Tour living in a camper and eating a diet of beans to save money. • Despite an overall record of 14-12-5 in the Ryder Cup, Woosnam never won a singles match, going 0-6-2. • Woosnam’s career has extended beyond just the 1980s and 1990s. He’s one of three golfers to have won a title on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, European Tour and European Senior Tour. • He was the first Welshman to win a men’s major championship at Augusta in 1991—and remains the only one to do so some 28 years later.
HENRY LONGHURST, England Journalist, Sunday Times golf correspondent for 40 years; TV commentator for BBC in England and CBS and ABC in the U.S.; worked until his death in 1978 at age 69.
• Hooked on golf at an early age, Longhurst first played the game on a home-made three-hole course in Devon. • Longhurst is the first World Golf Hall of Fame inductee to also have been a member of the British Parliament during World War II. • Longhurst was a good enough player to have won the 1936 German Amateur and finished second in the Swiss and French Amateurs.