Padraig Harrington Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame

Padraig Harrington was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in Pinehurst. Harrington, who even at the age of 52 still works tirelessly on his game and is always striving to improve, expressed his gratitude for the constants in his career: his wife, to whom he has been married for 34 years, his equipment supplier Wilson, whom he has never changed, and his manager Adrian Mitchell. “I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and validation,” said Harrington. The Irishman, who has a total of 21 victories worldwide, including the 2007 and 2008 British Open and the 2008 PGA Championship, joins 19-time LPGA winner Sandra Palmer as the only living inductees into the Hall of Fame. “This really feels like a dream,” said Palmer, who threw both arms in the air as she was introduced to the 29 other members of the Hall of Fame. The posthumously honored members include LPGA great Beverly Hanson, former Open Championship winner and golf course architect Tom Weiskopf and former US Open champion Johnny Farrell. The remaining seven founders of the LPGA Tour – Alice Bauer, Bettye Danoff, Helen Dettweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Sally Sessions and Shirley Spork – were also accepted as a group. The other six founders had previously been honored individually.

Padraig Harrington joins a select circle

Harrington grew up in Ireland with dreams of Claret Jugs and the Wanamaker Trophy, not so much the Hall of Fame. Still, he recognized the significance of the award, especially on the PGA Tour Champions, where many of his peers like Bernhard Langer, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Fred Couples are already members. “You look up to those guys and you want to be part of that group,” Harrington said last week. “A lot of the players on the Champions Tour were a bit before my time, so I looked up to them as role models when I turned pro.” For today’s generation of top golfers, Harrington now serves as a role model himself. In honor of Harrington’s induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, 26-time PGA Tour winner Rory McIlroy had words of appreciation for the former star: “He really got this whole Irish golf movement going. Padraig was the one who made us all believe we could do it. He’s the ultimate professional.” Fellow countryman Shane Lowry also paid tribute to Harrington: “He was one of my role models growing up. He was fantastic for golf and fantastic for Ireland. We are very grateful for him.”

The Irishman had his breakthrough in 2007 at the British Open in Carnoustie, when he defeated Sergio Garcia despite a double bogey on the last hole. A year later, he won the British Open at Royal Birkdale and a month later became the first European winner of the PGA Championship in 78 years. In addition to his major victories, Harrington won three more on the PGA Tour, twelve on the European Tour and five in other international tournaments. He played on six Ryder Cup teams and was captain at Whistling Straits in 2021, even though Harrington had no plans to become a professional golfer, as he revealed in an interview with the DP World Tour.

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods with emotional speech at Hall of Fame induction

On Wednesday evening the time had finally come: After a slight delay – the ceremony was postponed due to the Corona pandemic – Tiger Woods was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. His daughter Sam gave the presentation speech at the event at the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach on the evening before the Players Championship and handed over the trophy to her father, who was honoured for his achievements and credits in golf. Woods himself looked back on his life in an emotional speech.

Laudation by daughter Sam

The introductory speech was given by Woods’ daughter Sam, who looked back on some moments in her life with Tiger Woods. “In 2007, my dad found himself in a position to make an 18-foot putt to force a U.S. Open playoff, which he missed by a foot,” Sam recounted in her speech. “He then had to rush to the airport, fly from Pittsburgh to Orlando, and drive to the Winnie Palmer Hospital. Within five minutes of walking into the hospital room, still wearing his red golf shirt, on June 18, I was born. He may have lost that day, but he won the greatest gift of all.”

The 14-year-old also shared anecdotes from Tiger Woods’ life as a father, recounting holidays, violin concerts and football matches. Above all, however, the work ethic “train hard, fight easy” had determined the life of the now 46-year-old. This was also the case a good year ago, when he had to train “harder than ever”. Sam spoke of the “scariest moments” of her life as not being clear about the superstar’s health. “You’re not only going to be conducted into the Hall of Fame, but you’re standing here on your own two feet,” Sam said, explaining why her father deserved it. “You’re a fighter,” she said, describing the milestones of the 15-time major winner, who became the first black golfer to win a major tournament and won his fifth Masters in 2019 after an incredible comeback.

Tiger Woods with emotional acceptance speech

“I inducted you into the Dads Hall of Fame a long time ago,” Sam finished her speech, “but today I am so proud to present my dad, Tiger Woods, into the World Golf Hall of Fame.” With these words, the daughter, dressed in red, presented the award to her father, who thanked her in an emotional speech. In doing so, the 82-time PGA Tour winner significantly overstayed his seven-minute speaking time, talking about his family, racism and his work ethic in a total of 17 minutes. Woods began his journey through time 40 years ago when golf took hold of him at the tender age of six. He told how he secretly sneaked onto the golf course with his father because he was still too young, how he collected golf balls and earned his first money putting, how he was not allowed into some clubhouses as a black youth and how he only had two questions: “Where is the first tee? What’s the course record?”

At the age of 14, his family was at a crossroads and made a “tough decision.” His parents took out a second mortgage so the 14-year-old Woods could continue playing golf. His mum stayed at home while Tiger travelled with his father Earl to play the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) Tour. It all wouldn’t have been possible “without the sacrifices from mom and dad,” said an emotionally moved Woods, who was finally able to pay off the mortgage with his first big sponsoring deals. He said his father, who died in 2006, instilled in him the work ethic. “If you don’t go out there and put in the work, if you don’t go out and put in the effort – one, you’re not going to get the results, and two, and more importantly, you don’t deserve it. You need to earn it,” Woods said. “So that defined my upbringing. That defined my career.”

In that career, Tiger Woods has broken countless records and taken golf to a new level. For this, he has now been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. In addition, Tim Finchem, former commissioner of the PGA Tour, four-time major winner Susie Maxwell Berning and the late golf course developer Marion Hollins were also honoured on the evening for their achievements in golf.