MIAMI: Two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen, three-time major champion Jan Stephenson, and former Augusta National chairman Billy Payne were among five new World Golf Hall of Fame members announced Wednesday.
Paraplegic golfer Dennis Walters and the late Peggy Kirk Bell, an LPGA charter member, will also be enshrined in ceremonies on June 10 at Pebble Beach ahead of next year’s US Open, raising total membership in the Hall to 160.
South Africa’s Goosen won the 2001 and 2004 US Opens among 33 global titles in his career. He won the European Tour Order of Merit in 2001 and 2002 and was European Tour Player of the Year in 2001.
“It was a great moment,” Goosen said of learning about the honor in a call from Gary Player while on a practice green. “I felt shaky after that. Missed a lot of putts, but it was very exciting.”
Australia’s Stephenson, the 1974 LPGA Rookie of the Year, captured 20 titles worldwide, 16 of them in LPGA events. Known for pioneering sex appeal marketing off the course, Stephenson won the 1981 du Maurier Classic, 1982 LPGA Championship, and 1983 US Women’s Open for her major trophies.
“I’ve been crying, goosebumps, couldn’t sleep,” Stephenson said. “It was like winning the US Open all over again.”
Payne, who orchestrated the bid that brought Atlanta in 1996 Centennial Olympics, was chairman at the home course of the Masters from 2006 to 2017 and oversaw several major changes during his tenure, notably the first induction of women members to the club and new amateur events in Asia and Latin America.
“I think in my particular case, this honour is a salute to the collective contribution of the members of Augusta National and our really terrific staff,” Payne said. “I guess I was the messenger and proud to do our best to attempt to grow the game (and) put on the world’s best tournament.”
Walters was paralysed in a golf cart accident at age 24 but the American became an elite disabled player, making more than 3,000 appearances around the world at clinics and special performances.
Bell, an American, was an amateur star who later became a top instructor.
The Hall selection committee, which included legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Annika Sörenstam, debated 15 finalists with the chosen receiving the requires support from 12 of the 16 members.