Monday, March 24, 2014

New World Golf Hall of Fame standards for the female golfers or what will they do about that big elephant in the room?

From Randall Mell at Golf Channel writes about the new way players can qualify for the Hall of Fame-
The LPGA’s Hall of Fame requires members to earn 27 points for induction. A player gets a single point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship victory. A player also gets one point for winning the Vare Trophy and one point for the Rolex Player of the Year Award. Players who do not meet those requirements can still be inducted via the Veteran's Committee. The new World Golf Hall of Fame’s criteria only require a woman to have 15 victories on tours that receive Rolex World Rankings points, or to have won two major championships, to be eligible for induction. A player meeting that criteria, however, must still pass a vote of the World Golf Hall of Fame Selection Commission to be inducted.
The LPGA 27 point standard was very tough to achieve and I don't think that was a bad thing. Players could get in via the Veteran's committee a bunch of wins wasn't a guarantee of that either as Randall and I will both point out below. Later in the article Mell points out the 27 point rule will still apply for the LPGA Hall of Fame, its only the WGHOF standard that's changing. Now for the eligibles.
Laura Davies, 50, outside her LPGA career has won 45 Ladies European titles, six LPGA of Japan Tour titles and eight Australian LPGA titles. Meg Mallon, 50, won 18 LPGA titles and four major championships. Dottie Pepper, 48, won 17 LPGA titles, two major championships, a Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Vare Trophy. ***** Liselotte Neumann, 47, the first Swede to win a major championship (’88 U.S. Women’s Open), instantly becomes eligible for World Golf Hall of Fame induction. She won 26 titles on Rolex Rankings tours (13 of them LPGA titles). Helen Alfredsson, 48, won 22 titles on Rolex Rankings tours (7 LPGA titles, including a major, the ’93 Nabisco Dinah Shore). Notably, Cristie Kerr, 36, Suzann Pettersen, 32, and Yani Tseng, 25, have all met the minimum victory requirements for World Golf Hall of Fame eligibility but won’t become eligible until they reach 40 years old or retire and wait five years to become eligible.
Personally I think the Hall of Fame standards should be rather high. As such the only person I'd vote for of the above is Laura Davies. There is one person Randall missed. Who is it? Jane Blalock Blalock notched 27 LPGA wins between 1970 and 1985. That's more than any female golfer but Lorena Ochoa(who also racked up 27 wins) who isn't currently in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Randall probably forgot her.(I like Randall's writing and have met him in person. He's a good guy and what I wrote isn't meant to be picking on him) There are probably some golf people from the 70's and 80's who are trying to erase Blalock from their memories. The reason? What is known as the Jane Blalock cheating controversy. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article which I happened to do most of the writing of. By May 20 1972 Blalock had already gotten 5 of her 27 LPGA wins. She had won twice early that season. Blalock was also leading the money list. On that day at a tournament in Louisville Kentucky, Blalock was disqualified It was said she had improperly marked her ball on the 17th hole. Golf's biggest ever cheating story was under way. Two weeks later, Blalock was given a one-year suspension. At that time, the LPGA didn't have a commissioner. Discipline was handed down by an executive board mostly composed of player. It was said Blalock admitted her guilt and that her ball moving in Kentucky was not an isolated instance. Blalock got a lawyer and filed a anti-trust suit against the LPGA. As part of the suit, her lawyers motioned a Federal Judge that Blalock be allowed to play while her case was being heard. The motion was granted. Blalock was only off the tour for a couple of weeks. 27 tour players signed a petition against Blalock. Players said she had cheated before the May 1972 tournament. LPGA HOFer Louise Suggs was one of Blalock's accusers. Future HOFer Judy Rankin I believe was on the executive committee that handed down the suspension. Her coach, a prominent one at the time named Bob Toski(who I once met) said Blalock needed psychiatric help. Blalock did have at least one defender- Sandra Palmer. Palmer, who won 19 times on the LPGA Tour including two majors between 1971 and 1985, said '"If you see an infraction of the rules, you should point it out immediately. You don't wait until three years later to report something. Once you've signed that card, you're as guilty as the person who committed the violation." For supporting Blalock, Palmer was put on probation by the LPGA. The suit and the controversy lingered for three years. Blalock won two more times in 1972, but narrowly finished 2nd to Kathy Whitworth on the money list. In 1973 Blalock didn't win at all. The only such year for her between 1970 and 1980. Pro golfer Dave Hill, a controversial person in his own right, wrote in his golf memoir 'Teed Off' that the suit Blalock brought the LPGA Tour came close to almost destroying it. A federal court ruled in Blalock's favor in 1974. In the summer of 1975, Blalock and the LPGA settled out of court. In the end whether Blalock cheated or not was never proven in a court of law. Her suit was about how the LPGA was run and whether players could hand down infractions against fellow players. Due to the Blalock controversy, the LPGA did hire its first commissioner. My opinion on whether Jane Blalock cheated or not- I don't know but Palmer was right. The accusations that came after the Kentucky tournament about Blalock prior to it have serious problem. If a player is cheating, their playing partners should step forward at once or they become guilty too. Blalock won 27 times on the LPGA. She also made 299 consecutive straight cuts. Repeat after me- She made 299 consecutive straight cuts. That's two times Tiger Woods best streak. After her playing days, Blalock helped to form the Legends Tour which is the equivalent of the Champions Tour. She was the Legends Tour's first commissioner. There are some holes in Blalock's record. She never won a major. She was the original winner of the Dinah Shore now known as the Kraft Nabisco, but it wasn't a major at the time. Blalock was never leading money winner nor took home the Vare Trophy. Blalock's name should come up anytime the WGHOF considers female golfers for induction. Her record is too strong to ignore. Will the Veteran's committee give Blalock consideration based on her merits or will whether she cheated or not be held against her. I think Blalock isn't well liked in some quarters due to the controversy and that this is being held against her. My opinion- I don't think Blalock will ever be inducted into the WGHOF due to the cheating controversy. IMHO she has better credentials for induction than anyone Mell listed but Laura Davies. I'm neither pro or con so far as Blalock getting into the Hall based strictly on her golf record, but I do think she deserves a fair shake. Update- In a article about LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan stating that the LPGA would stick to the 27-point requirement for Hall of Fame induction, Columnist Randall Mell pointed out Jane Blalock's eligibility, her golfing record, plus the cheating controversy. Randall's article was published 20 minutes after mine. GMTA Randall.

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