Price finally elected to Hall of Fame
by Doug Ferguson
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Nick Price no longer has to wonder what it takes to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The Zimbabwean, who won three major championships and dominated golf in the 1990s, was elected Tuesday through the PGA Tour ballot and will be 99th member of the hall.
No other player was elected through the PGA Tour or International ballot.
Price will be inducted Oct. 20 at the World Golf Village along with two-time PGA champion Leo Diego, former Japanese star Chako Higuchi and Annika Sorenstam, who qualifies as soon as she plays 15 events on the LPGA Tour this year.
``I was hoping that it was going to be my time soon,'' Price said at the Wachovia Championship. ``It happened sooner rather than later.''
Price received 76 percent of the vote on the PGA Tour ballot, easily getting the minimum 65 percent. Tom Kite received 59 percent of the vote, followed by Henry Picard (43 percent), Curtis Strange (38 percent) and Larry Nelson (37 percent).
Three Japanese players led the International ballot voting, although no one reached 65 percent. The closest was Ayako Okamoto at 46 percent and Isao Aoki at 45 percent. Jumbo Ozaki, who has won more than 100 events on the Japanese tour, had 35 percent.
Price wasn't even aware of the Hall of Fame until he visited its old site at Pinehurst some 20 years ago, but it became a goal in recent years -- especially as some of his contemporaries with fewer major championships were inducted.
Payne Stewart, with three majors but only 11 victories, was inducted in 2001. A year ago it was Ben Crenshaw, who won two Masters.
Price has three majors among his 18 victories on the PGA Tour, and 23 other victories around the world. He won 16 times during the 1990s, more than any other player, and was the most dominant player in golf until Tiger Woods came along.
``Every golfer knows that major championships are what make the world go 'round,'' Price said. ``I saw guys getting in ahead of me at two, and that was a little hard. I was beginning to wonder when it was going to happen.''
``If you've won more majors than guys in there, and they're your contemporaries, you wonder what you've done wrong. It was perplexing.''
Price separated himself in more than just victories. He won by big margins at some of the biggest tournaments, such as his five-stroke victory in the 1993 Players Championship, and his wire-to-wire victory at Southern Hills in the 1994 PGA Championship, winning by six.
He said his three most important victories were his first on Tour, the '83 World Series of Golf at Firestone, his first major at the '92 PGA Championship and the '93 Players Championship, which he said was four great rounds of golf.
Still, he was at his best in the mid-90s, winning nine times in just under 15 months.
``Nick will always be remembered for one of the dominant stretches in PGA Tour history, and this honor is an important part of his legacy,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.