Ian Woosnam, Davis Love III, Lorena Ochoa and Meg Mallon were inducted in to the World Golf Hall of Fame on Tuesday, with broadcaster Henry Longhurst also being posthumously awarded the accolade.
Just two days before the playing of the 12th annual Presidents Cup at nearby Liberty National Golf Club, the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum kicked off a historic week in New York with the enshrinement of its 2017 Induction Class today at Cipriani Wall Street.
More than 30 Hall of Fame Members, including icons Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam and the entire 2015 Class returned to support the new members: Davis Love III, Meg Mallon, Lorena Ochoa Reyes, Ian Woosnam and the late Henry Longhurst.
"Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Davis, Lorena, Meg, Ian and the family of the late Henry Longhurst," said Jack Peter, President of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
"Between Scotland and now New York, we are very pleased with the direction and the momentum the Hall of Fame continues to build. We are grateful for the opportunity to kick off Presidents Cup week and share the stories of these five worthy inductees with audiences all over the world."
First to receive the Induction Crystal was Meg Mallon, who presented by friend and former LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw who described the four-time Major winner as the "owner of a big, crinkly, beautiful smile."
Prior to the start of her induction speech, Mallon first asked her family and friends in the audience to stand to be acknowledged for helping her reach her goals, which included a scholarship to her beloved Ohio State University. Mallon also recalled her memories as a member of the LPGA family, which included nine U.S. Solheim Cup appearances.
Following Mallon's acceptance and to the delight of the audience, the Hall of Fame played an emotional video to honor the late Arnold Palmer, who passed away just over one year ago on September 25, 2016.
Shortly after, Player took the stage to introduce his friend Ian Woosnam who proudly accepted his Induction Crystal and dedicated it to his family, including his late mother and father. Woosnam, known for his power off the tee, smiled while reminiscing about his long, successful career.
“Woosie,” who won the 1991 Masters Tournament, sat atop the Official World Golf Rankings for 50 weeks throughout 1991 and 1992 - and his induction more many felt overdue. He represented Europe in eight consecutive Ryder Cup team, was awarded an OBE in 2006 was also twice named European Player of the year.
"I'd like to start my speech, my thanks go to the World Golf Hall of Fame, the selection committee," Woosnam said. "Four legends of the game, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, my friend Gary Player, and to me, the greatest player ever, Jack Nicklaus."
"I was once asked by a gentle member of my golf club around the age of 14, he said, young Woosnam, what are you going to do when you leave school. I said, I'm going to be a professional golfer, like my heroes, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player."
"I want to travel the world, win golf tournaments and majors and become the best golfer in the world. He laughed, and he tapped me on the head and said, well, if you want to try to achieve all that, you're going to have to grow a little. Well, he was right. I did grow a little, about four inches. Oh, dear. Yeah, I'm not getting any taller. There's only one way to go from here, and it's shorter."
"So ladies and gentlemen, to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame with the greatest golfers of all time is truly another dream come true. Today is not all about myself, it's about the people who have been part of my journey, from my school teachers to the members of the golf courses I've been associated with, to the European Tour, the PGA TOUR of America, and the Tours around the world, my fellow professionals, my sponsors, my fans and my friends, I thank you all."
"I'd also like to mention some very dear friends who made a big difference in my life but sadly have passed. Jeff Roberts and John Wilson. To my golf coaches Bob Torrance and John Jacobs and my mother and father-in-law, Terry and Glendryth Pew, you're all sadly missed. They say behind any successful person there's always some very special people. To my longtime manager David Barlow, my financial advisor Jonathan Desmond, and my sister-in-law who has been a nanny to my children, she's been my PA, she's even been my travel agent, Magretta Clark, thank you."
"And to my wonderful family, my son Daniel, to my daughters, Rebecca and Ami, and my son-in-law Doug, thank you. And to my wonderful wife, who has been my rock, she's been my best friend, Glen. You deserve this award as much as I do."
"But there's only one thing that could make this day even more better, and that is my parents, and that is if my parents were here today. But I'm sure they're up there looking down with pride and joy, so I'd like to take this opportunity on behalf of my brothers and sisters to thank them for giving us a chance to play this wonderful game of golf, and personally thank them for giving me the support and encouragement to follow my dreams."
"So I'd like to dedicate this wonderful trophy to my mom and dad, to my parents, to my family, and to every single person who's been part of my life. Thank you, and God bless you all."
Henry Longhurst, a hybrid journalist who wrote extensively for the London Times before seamlessly transitioning to broadcast work for the BBC, was presented by fellow journalist, countryman and admirer, John Hopkins. On hand to accept the Induction Crystal, was Longhurst's granddaughter Virginia "Ginny" Hudson.
John Hopkins said of Longhurst, "Golf has been graced by outstanding writers, but few if any made as great a mark as he did in another medium, named television. For years, he would lug his slightly rotund frame up a rickety ladder, there to commentate on golf first for the BBC and then on American television. Longhurst, with pen in hand, was quite a sight. Longhurst with a microphone pressed against his lips was a delight. His exquisite command of English meant that he rarely misspoke and rarely said too many words."
Lorena Ochoa Reyes
Next to be honored was Loren Ochoa Reyes, the first Mexican-born golfer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. LPGA golf legend and Solheim Cup Captain Juli Inkster introduced Ochoa Reyes, who took the stage before more than 80 friends and family members.
Unlike many other Hall of Fame Members in the room, Ochoa is best remembered for leaving the game on her own terms at age 28 to pursue a family and help others in her home country. Before exiting the stage, a very grateful Ochoa, looked down at her parents, who were sitting in the front row and delivered a heartfelt message in Spanish and finished her speech with this message to her home country.
"My trophy, like Ian said, is for all the Mexicans, for all the Hispanics and for all the fans also in the world and here in the United States, I always felt so much support and love, and thank you also to the Mexican media," Ochoa said. "Because of them, I was able to share all these great stories and adventures with my friends and people in Mexico."
"I have a foundation that I love, and today I'm very proud to say that we have more than 4,000 kids that already finished school in la Barranca, and it is a team effort. We have a lot of support and a lot of friends. Gracias. Many people helped me through the years, and they still do today. So I want to say that I'm sure -- I played golf and I played good golf because the more I help, it seems like it happen together."
"You win tournaments, you feel comfortable, you are getting all this attention, and the more you win, the more you can help and give back, and I think it's a responsibility if we can do it. That's my motivation still today. I travel, I play tournaments, I do exhibitions and everything is for these kids so they can continue their education and we can help them and change their life. So I guess that's it for me."
Davis Love III
The final inductee recognized was Davis Love III, a 21-time PGA TOUR winner, 1997 PGA Champion and a two-time THE PLAYERS champion. On stage to present Love III, was mentor and fellow Hall of Fame Member Tom Kite. Upon accepting his Hall of Fame honor, an emotional Love III brought his three-year old granddaughter, Eloise on stage as a symbol of the Love family golf lineage, which includes his late father and his son, Dru Love.
He said to her, and to the room: "Eloise, your great grandfather played in U.S. Opens. Your grandfather did, too, your mom's brother, your Uncle Dru has played in one. Maybe there will be more to come for me and for me as his caddie. You can't know. Golf makes no guarantees. Maybe someday you'll play in a U.S. Open. That's up to you. But whether you do or don't, I hope the game I know and love will be there for you as it was and as it is for me. It should be, but that's up to us."
"I hope it is, Eloise, because even though golf can make you half crazy at times, it can also bring you friends and challenges and opportunities like nothing else I know. And it can tell you all about yourself, the bad and the good and in between. Golf has improved my life in every way, and this I can guarantee, it will do the same for you. And that's why this celebration tonight, this induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, is the greatest honor of my life. Thank you."
The next Induction Ceremony will take place in 2019 in Pebble Beach, California the week of the men's U.S. Open Championship. The Class of 2019 will be announced in 2018.
For more information on the World Golf Hall of Fame or to view detailed biographies of the 2017 Induction Class, transcripts and photos from the ceremony, visit WorldGolfHallofFame.org.