ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast will be enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum as the Class of 2015. The Induction Ceremony will be held on Monday, July 13, 2015 at the University of St Andrews, just blocks from the Old Course, host site of that week’s 144th Open Championship.
This is the first Class to be elected by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Commission, which debated a group of 16 Finalists. The four members of the Class of 2015 each passed the required 75 percent voting threshold – approval by at least 12 of the 16 members.
O’Meara was driving in a heavy rainstorm to the Galleria in Houston to pick up something for his wife when his cellphone started buzzing. The caller ID said it was PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
O’Meara almost let it go through to voicemail.
“It’s not like the commissioner calls me very often,” he said.
But O’Meara decided to take the call, one the 57-year-old has been waiting to receive for several years. Finchem delivered the good news: O’Meara had just been voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
O’Meara pulled over to the side of the road. He needed a few minutes to collect himself. Then he called Meredith and told her he would be home in 15 minutes and they would have something to celebrate.
“She was over the top, jumping up and down like a kid in a candy store,” said O’Meara, whose final two wins of his 16-win Tour career came in 1998 at the Masters and the Open Championship.
The Selection Commission was co-chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam and included the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.
“We are thrilled to welcome Laura, David, Mark and A.W. into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner, Selection Commission member and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “The new selection process provided a thorough examination of the candidates by a diverse, international group and we’re delighted with the outcome. Congratulations the Class of 2015.”
The Commission elected the Class of 2015 from 16 Finalists, which were vetted by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee met earlier this summer and vetted every candidate that met the qualifications of the Hall of Fame’s four Induction categories.
The commissioner also made another call Monday, this one to another two-time major winner, David Graham. Finchem said that USGA executive director Mike Davis had presented his name to the Hall of Fame committee and that Graham had been voted in.
After the commissioner hung up, Graham received a second call from Davis, then a third from Hall of Fame chief operating officer Jack Peter.
“It’s been a long time,” said the 68-year-old Aussie, “but like they say, good things are worth waiting for.”
Davies was back home in Sussex, England, preparing for Tuesday’s ceremony at Buckingham Palace in which she would become a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, receiving the medal from Princess Anne. That’s when she saw that LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan was trying to contact her.
She figured she better call him back.
“I went from thinking I was in trouble and a little bit of panic to probably the best news ever,” she said.
In 271 days, the trio of O’Meara, Graham and Davies, along with the late golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as the Class of 2015. For many years, the ceremony has been held at the Hall of Fame’s home in St. Augustine, Florida, but next year’s ceremony will be at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland on July 13, the Monday of The Open Championship at the Old Course.
It’s the start of a rotation for the induction ceremony, which will be held in 2017 back at St. Augustine, then 2019 at Pebble Beach, as the Hall of Fame announces its newest inductees every two years.
“We have to remember it is the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Graham, a two-time major winner. “Taking it and doing it in different places, I think, is a wonderful idea.”
Being part of the first class to be inducted at St. Andrews will make an already special occasion even more so for the three living inductees. Each one has played competitively at St. Andrews.
“Anybody’s who has played for a living, whether you’re an American, Australian, English — it doesn’t matter what country you’re from — but if you love the game of golf, you know deep down inside that St. Andrews is where it all started,” O’Meara said. “It’s the home of golf.”
Davies has played the women’s British Open at St. Andrews twice. The Old Course has not treated her well.
“I’ve missed the cut both times,” she said, “but it’s still my favorite golf course.”
It was just a few weeks ago during Ryder Cup week that the Hall of Fame announced its decision to hold next year’s ceremony at St. Andrews. Jack Peter said the move has been well-received.
“Makes me wonder why we didn’t do that years ago,” he said.