The World Golf Hall of Fame‘s membership grew to 160 today as Billy Payne, Retief Goosen, Peggy Kirk Bell, Jan Stephenson and Dennis Walters received Golf’s Highest Honor during the Induction Ceremony at the Sunset Center in Carmel-By-The-Sea.
Just three days before the U.S. Open kicks off, 28 fellow Hall of Famers returned to celebrate the Class of 2019 including Selection Commission Co-Chairs, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam.
First to receive the Induction Crystal was Dennis Walters, presented by friends Jack and Barbara Nicklaus. Walters, who was paralyzed at age 24 after a golf cart accident, gave an emotional speech about his journey, which was accentuated with an awe-inspiring moment when Walters rose from his wheelchair and walked to the podium.
Next was Australian icon, Jan Stephenson. Stephenson was presented with a tribute from friend and actress, Jane Seymour. Stephenson reminisced about when her career took off when then-Commissioner Ray Volpe asked her to become the face of the LPGA. From 1974 – 1987, Stephenson was a force on the Tour, winning 16 times including three Majors.
Peggy Kirk Bell’s family paid tribute to her legacy in a video. Bell, a Charter Member of the LPGA, amateur champion and winner of the 1949 Titleholders Championship, is being celebrated for her lifetime achievements. Bell’s two daughters and son accepted the Crystal on her behalf.
Gary Player took to the stage to introduce fellow South African and two-time U.S. Open Champion, Retief Goosen. Goosen joins Player, Ernie Els and Bobby Locke as the fourth South African to be inducted into the Hall. Goosen recalled the time he was struck by lightning on the course at age 15. He beat the odds after returning to the course just a few weeks later, going on to win 33 worldwide tournaments.
Augusta National Chairman Emeritus, Billy Payne, received the Crystal from his close friend and current Chairman Fred Ridley. Chairman Ridley acknowledged Payne’s “enthusiasm for life, his total commitment to excellence and his passion for our sport [which] has been a great inspiration.” After receiving his Crystal, Payne congratulated his fellow Inductees.
SOURCE: World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum