Date: October 04, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussie trio in Hall of Fame mix

Three Australians are among the 15 finalists to be considered for elevation to the World Golf Hall of Fame in its class of 2019.

West Australian Graham Marsh stands alongside South African Retief Goosen and Americans Corey Pavin and Hal Sutton as nominees in the male competitor category.

Jan Stephenson, originally of New South Wales, is one of five nominees in the female competitor category, along with four Americans: Susie Maxwell Berning, Beverly Hanson, Sandra Palmer and Dottie Pepper.

And another Sydneysider, the late Jim Ferrier, is nominated in the veterans category alongside Catherine Lacoste, of France, and American Calvin Peete.

In the final category, three Americans – Peggy Kirk Bell, Billy Payne, and Dennis Walters – are nominated for their lifetime achievements in golf.

Only six Australians are in the WGHOF: Karrie Webb, David Graham, Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Kel Nagle and Walter Travis.

Marsh, 74, was a prolific global winner, with no fewer than 70 tournament victories around the world, most notably in Japan where he won 20 times. He doesn't have a major championship to his credit, but has won two "senior majors" subsequently.

Stephenson, 66, was the first Australian woman to win a major championship and ended her career with three major titles among her 26 professional titles, 16 of which were won on the LPGA Tour where she was also the rookie of the year in 1974. She also won the 1977 Women's Australian Open.

Ferrier was also a groundbreaker, being the first Aussie male to win a major crown, the 1947 US PGA Championship. While amateur rules and World War II conspired to take away several opportunities, Ferrier won 18 times on the US PGA Tour and was runner-up in the 1950 Masters. Before he left to live in the US, Ferrier was runner-up at age 16 in the 1931 Australian Open, won the Australian Amateur four times and won his national Open twice as an amateur in 1938 and 1939.

The list of finalists was handed down by a selection sub-committee comprised of 20 individuals, including Webb as one of six World Golf Hall of Fame members. This group was responsible for overseeing the vetting process that commenced in June.

Before gaining consideration, each finalist met the necessary qualifications in his or her respective category by way of on-course accomplishments or by significant contributions to the game.

The selection commission, co-chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam, will assemble next week to discuss the merits and vote on the 15 finalists.

Additionally, all living Hall of Fame members provided personal input to the selection commission as it relates to the group of finalists.

To be inducted, an individual must receive approval from at least 75% of the selection commission. This group will ultimately elect the "class of 2019", to be inducted in Pebble Beach, California in June next year during the week of the men’s US Open.