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Strange gets most votes, Pak youngest to Hall of Fame

11/12/2007 - Golf Hubert Green Curtis Strange + more

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Curtis Strange and Hubert Green could
be crusty and surly on the golf course, a fighting spirit that
carried Strange to consecutive U.S. Open titles and Green to major
victories in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

They turned somber and reflective Monday night when they were
inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"I have been extremely lucky and blessed to play golf,"
Strange said. "I love this game, and sometimes I hate it. It
frustrates us and excites us at the same time. I've gone to bed
many nights questioning my ability and you wake up the next morning
and can't wait to play."

Joining them in the Class of 2007 was Se Ri Pak, at 30 the
youngest player inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Beyond her five majors and 24 career victories on the LPGA Tour,
Pak became a pioneer for young players from South Korea. She was
one of only three South Koreans on the LPGA during her sensational
rookie season, when she won two majors, and the tour now has 45
players from her country.

Kel Nagle of Australia, whose 76 victories around the world
included the 1960 British Open at St. Andrews, was elected through
the Veteran's Category. Nagle could not travel to Florida for the
induction.

Inducted posthumously were golf course architect Charles Blair
Macdonald and three-time British Amateur champion Joe Carr, both
through the Lifetime Achievement Category. Macdonald helped build
the first 18-hole course in America, won the first U.S. Amateur in
1895 and was the driving force in getting five golf clubs to form
what became the U.S. Golf Association.

The induction at the World Golf Village brought membership in
the Hall of Fame to 120.

Strange was only player who received at least 65 percent of the
vote on the PGA Tour ballot. He won 17 times on the PGA Tour, but
was most famous for becoming the first player since Ben Hogan in
1950-51 to win the U.S. Open in consecutive years. First came a
playoff victory over Nick Faldo at The Country Club in 1988, then a
one-shot victory at Oak Hill in 1989.

He was the dominant American for a decade, winning the PGA Tour
money title three times and becoming the first to surpass $1
million for a year in 1988. This year, 99 players topped the $1
million mark.

Strange was presented by his twin brother, Allan, who also
played on tour in the early '90s. Their father, Tom, the head pro
at Bow Creek Country Club in Virginia Beach, Va., pulled them aside
when they were 12 and told them, "Whatever you do in life, strive
to be the greatest you can be."

Their father died of cancer two years later.

Strange won an NCAA title at Wake Forest, hitting a 1-iron to 12
feet for eagle on the final hole, then went on to dominance,
particularly in the U.S. Open. He is the only player to finish
under par in three straight U.S. Opens.

He prepared for that as a teenager, playing four balls late in
the afternoon at Bow Creek _ one belonging to Ben Hogan or Byron
Nelson, one representing Sam Snead, one for Jack Nicklaus and the
other his.

"This is my finest day and my greatest honor," Strange said.
"I understand that you will never confuse my record with Hogan,
Nelson, Snead or Nicklaus. I understand I won't be in the starting
rotation on this team, but I will be on the team. That's enough for
me. And trust me, it's a privilege to be on the team."

Green was recruited to Florida State by the basketball coach,
Hugh Durham, and was PGA Tour rookie of the year in 1971. He wound
up with 19 career victories and two majors, one that showed
determination, stubbornness and supreme concentration. Playing the
final round of the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, he was told
someone had threatened to kill him on the back nine.

Given the choice to clear the course of fans or return the
following day, Green played on and captured his first major. He
also won the 1985 PGA Championship at Cherry Hills over Lee
Trevino.

Green, who overcame oral cancer four years ago, had 73 guests
come to the induction, including his three sons. They played golf
together Sunday for the first time.

Pak hardly spoke any English when she joined the tour, and
learned the language mostly through her press conferences. She was
nervous before a crowd of some 3,000 on a chilly night, but got
through it with laughter, her larger-than-life smile and heartfelt
emotion.

"My parents said when you make dreams, make them big," she
said. "This night was always the one I dreamed about."

Pak had as much influence as anyone since Nancy Lopez, who
presented her. She was relatively unknown as a rookie in 1998 until
she won the LPGA Championship, then the U.S. Women's Open in a
20-hole playoff, and later shot 61 to set what then was the scoring
record on the LPGA Tour. More than that, she inspired a nation of
South Korean golfers to bring their games to America.

"Now everybody calls me the leader of Korean ladies golfers,"
she said earlier Monday. "Leader is always hard, really difficult.
There's a lot of pressure. All I can do is just make them go the
right way, to show them what's the best way, how to believe in
themselves, how to make them as players. Things like that, it makes
me really more stronger."