Padraig Harrington, Sandra Palmer lead Class of '24 inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame


PINEHURST, N.C. — Padraig Harrington grew up in Ireland dreaming more about claret jugs and the Wanamaker Trophy than the World Golf Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is largely an American thing, though Harrington fully understood that it was a label attached to the very best. That was the case particularly on the PGA Tour Champions when he heard the “Hall of Fame” reference to so many of his peers, from Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh, from Ernie Els to Fred Couples.

“You kind of look at these guys and and you want to be one of them. You want to be part of it,” Harrington said. “And many of the guys on the Champions Tour, their careers were a little bit ahead of me so they were actually guys I would have looked up to when I was turning pro. They’re guys I would have watched on TV at pro events.

“So it’s nice to be part of that crowd.”

Harrington was to take his place among them Monday night at the first World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony since the shrine moved from St. Augustine, Florida, to Pinehurst when the USGA established a second home.

It is on the second floor of the USGA Experience building.

Harrington, whose 21 worldwide wins include the British Open in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship in 2008, joins LPGA star Sandra Palmer as the only living inductees.

LPGA great Beverly Hanson, former British Open champion and golf course architect Tom Weiskopf and former U.S. Open champion Johnny Farrell were to be inducted posthumously.

Also being inducted were the remaining seven founders of the LPGA Tour — Alice Bauer, Bettye Danoff, Helen Dettweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Sally Sessions and Shirley Spork — who will be going in as a group. The other six founders previous were inducted on their own.

It will be the largest World Golf Hall of Fame class since 2008.

Harrington was the star attraction in this class, an Irishman with one of the great minds who was willing to try anything to get better and often did. He got his first big breakthrough at Carnoustie in 2007 when he overcame a double bogey on the final hole to beat Sergio Garcia to win the British Open.

A year later, he won the Open at Royal Birkdale and then became the first European winner of the PGA Championship in 78 years.

He had three other wins on the PGA Tour, 12 other wins on the European Tour and five other on circuits around the world. He also played on six Ryder Cup teams and was captain in the 2021 matches at Whistling Straits.

Harrington, 52, has seven wins on the PGA Tour Champions, including the U.S. Senior Open two years ago.

“When you’re in your career and you win tournaments and you receive awards and accolades, you always assume they’re going to be there and you’re going to keep winning. You always think there’s going to be another one,” he said. “You maybe don’t enjoy them the way you should at the time.

“So by getting into the Hall of Fame it brings a lot of emotions. Validation, no doubt about it. Satisfaction, no doubt about it. It’s a deep-set satisfaction that I’ve done it and I’ve done well.”

Palmer was a two-time major champion among her 19 LPGA victories. She went seven years before winning her first LPGA event in 1971, and then she won with alarming regularity. Her first major was the 1975 U.S. Open.

Weiskopf, who died in August 2022 of pancreatic cancer, won 16 times on the PGA Tour and captured his lone major at Royal Troon in the British Open. His contributions extended to golf architecture and candid, unfailingly accurate commentary on television. His design work was known for the short par 4s, among the most exciting and enjoyable holes.

Hanson was renowned not only for what she won but whom she beat. The North Dakota native won 17 times on the LPGA Tour and three majors. She won her first event as a pro by beating Babe Zaharias, and she won two of her majors by beating Louise Suggs.

Farrell previously was a member of the PGA Hall of Fame in Pinehurst before it moved to Florida under the name World Golf Hall of Fame. A 22-time winner, he was famous for his one-shot victory in a 36-hole playoff against Bobby Jones in the 1928 U.S. Open. He spent the second half of his life as a club pro at Quaker Ridge and Baltusrol.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf



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