ATLANTA – For a guy that is notoriously bad at answering his phone Fred Couples received a call that required no screening this week. The game’s undisputed “King of Cool” will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next May officials announced on Wednesday at the Tour Championship.
Although the 52-year-old’s resume was Hall of Fame-worthy – 15 PGA Tour victories, one major championship (1992 Masters) and a flawless record (2-0) as the U.S. Presidents Cup captain – it was his status as an icon that solidified his inclusion.
“He’s a fan and media favorite,” said Davis Love III, one of Couples’ closest friends who finished second in the Hall of Fame balloting with 38 percent of the vote. “He made it look so easy but he always tried. I know he will be thrilled and it is much deserved.”
The former world No. 1 was slowed by back injuries throughout his career and last played a full season on the PGA Tour in 2009. He has won eight times on the Champions Tour including two over-50 majors.
“I love competing, and I was in a great era of playing with the young Phil Mickelsons and the older Greg Normans, and the (Nick) Prices,” said Couples, who received 51 percent of the vote. “What a great day for me.”
Sixty-five percent of the vote is needed for induction into the Hall of Fame, but the Tour accepts the leading vote-getter each year over 50 percent.
In many ways Couples’ laidback demeanor, which fueled his status as a fan favorite, concealed an intensely competitive drive, evidenced by his team record in more than two decades of Ryder and Presidents cup matches.
He played his first Ryder Cup in 1989 and has a 7-9-4 record, and a 2-1-2 singles record, and is 9-5-2 in five Presidents Cups. He will make a third turn as the U.S. Presidents Cup captain next year in Ohio and will serve as one of Love’s assistants at next week’s Ryder Cup.
“He’s meant so much to the game of golf. He deserves it,” Tiger Woods said. “He’s been one of my friends and one of the guys I’ve turned to for advice. We’ve had a great friendship over the years.”
The induction ceremony will be held May 6 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., and Couples, one of the game’s most-entertaining and sometimes confounding speakers promises to be a highlight of the festivities.
“It will be a fun speech. It might be the first Hall of Fame dinner I go to,” Love said.