Golf Tidbits: Needed Hall of Fame changes coming

The Sports NetworkMarch 25, 2014 

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Once the World Golf Hall of Fame announced there would be no class in 2014, you knew there would be changes coming to the voting process. Those changes were announced over the weekend.

Of the biggest changes, the voting process itself was reduced greatly. Previously, hundreds of individuals helped select each year's Hall of Fame Class.

Now, there is a 20-person sub-committee that nominates individuals to the 16- person voting committee. The sub-committee is stacked with seven institutional seats and 13 at-large seats, six of whom are World Golf Hall of Fame members.

The voting committee is headed by four co-chairs (Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam), who will serve two-year terms, nine institutional seats and three at-large seats. The institutional seats are representatives of golf tours or organizations.

The previous voting group was more than qualified, but simply too big. The voting process now states that a candidate needs 75 percent of the vote. Previously, players needed 60-percent of the vote, but if no one reached that level, the highest vote-getter would gain entry in the Hall if he or she received more than 50 percent of the vote.

Therefore, no more Fred Couples getting in with 51 percent of the vote.

The amount of victories for men was increased from 10 to 15 and the amount of majors needed was moved from one to two to be eligible.

There are 13 American men with between 11 and 20 wins. Four have not won a major, but two of those four have won majors on the Champions Tour. Does that make them candidates for the Hall of Fame? Not necessarily, but it could help in the long run.

Heading that group is Davis Love III. He has 20 wins, including a PGA Championship title and two Players Championship victories. Is that enough? Not with the new criteria because he is one major short.

Then, there is a small group of five players that meet most, if not all, of the new criteria.

Padraig Harrington has three majors among his five PGA Tour wins and 14 European Tour titles. He is one of four players with three or more majors won not in the Hall of Fame.

The others are Tiger Woods, who isn't eligible because he isn't 40 years old yet, James Anderson and Bob Ferguson. The latter two played in the '70s and '80s - that would be the 1870s and 1880s.

Harrington will likely get in, but the other four are questionable. Angel Cabrera has won two majors with 45 worldwide wins, but many of them are on smaller tours. He will be an interesting case study.

Retief Goosen has won two U.S. Open crowns, seven times on the PGA Tour, 14 times on the European Tour and nine more times on his home tour, the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. Like Harrington, he will likely get in, but both obviously need another European Tour win.

Lee Janzen and John Daly both have two majors, but not enough wins to qualify and are out.

The subtle changes make it harder to get into the Hall, and getting in should be hard. There is also a cap of five entrants per year, and the voting will only happen every other year.

To me, that signifies the recognition that there are fewer and fewer candidates in the pipeline, and the Hall isn't just going to put people in for the sake of putting people in every year.

These are wise moves all around. The Hall of Fame should be special. You don't want it to be the Hall of Very Good. Make it harder, and if there is a year in which no one gets in, so be it.

EVERY FINALLY GETS BIG BREAK

With Adam Scott coughing up a big lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, there had to be a beneficiary of Scott's bad luck, and that person was Matt Every.

Every is in his seventh year as full-time member of either the Web.com or PGA Tour. His first six years as a pro were split evenly between the two tours.

The 30-year-old, who was once a contestant on the "Big Break" television show on Golf Channel, nearly broke through for his first win in 2012. He earned two second-place finishes and one third-place finish that season. Every had three other top 10s that year which helped him earn over $1.9 million, and he played in the first three FedExCup playoff events.

The 2013 season was not as kind as he collected only four top-10 finishes, but he still earned enough to finish inside the top 75 on the money list. He again played the first three playoff events.

Besides a victory, missing from his resume is a high finish in a major. That's tough to accomplish when he has yet to play in the Masters or British Open.

Every has played the last two PGA Championships, but missed the cut last year and shared 71st in 2012. His best finish in a major was in 2005, when he qualified for the U.S. Open as an amateur and shared 28th place. He hasn't played the national open since though.

Those gaps will be filled thanks to his victory. Every has jumped to 44th in the world rankings, and if he keeps that lofty ranking, he'll play all four majors for the first time ever.

Every player needs that one break to kick start his career. Maybe this is Every's chance.

MINI-TIDBITS

- Officials from the USGA met with players from the LPGA last week in Arizona to discuss this year's U.S. Women's Open, which will be played a week after the men's Open at Pinehurst No. 2. The USGA thought the meeting went well. The LPGA players? Not so much. They are very concerned about the condition of the course and have every right to be. Imagine the minefield of divots the women will play through. If there is a playoff for the men's Open, it will start at noon on Monday, and the women will be allowed to practice, on course, before the playoff. This is all less than ideal. Why not have a week in between the two events? This will be a major challenge for the USGA.

- Karrie Webb may be 39, but she is showing no signs of slowing down. After going two years without a win, Webb has won three times in the last 10 months. She now has 41 LPGA victories and is tied with Babe Zaharias for 10th place on the LPGA's all-time wins list.

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