Singh slips into Hall of Fame

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Vijay Singh's arduous journey from Fiji reached another unimaginable destination Wednesday when he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame with the lowest percentage of votes and help from a clause in criteria.

Singh was the only player elected from the PGA Tour ballot, receiving 56 percent of the vote.

"Coming from where I am, trying to make a living and never thinking about player of the year or the Hall of Fame, this was never in my wildest dreams," Singh said from the Houston Open, where he is the defending champion. "This is what hard work does. It pays off."

Few have worked harder than Singh, 42, a self-taught player from tiny Fiji who toiled on tours around the world until his career took off in America. He has 25 victories on the PGA Tour, won three major championships and late last year reached No. 1 in the world ranking.

But his election to the Hall of Fame was a close call.

Players from the PGA Tour and International ballot require 65 percent of the vote for election. Hall of Fame officials two years ago added a stipulation that if no one gets 65 percent, the players with the most votes will be elected provided he is on at least 50 percent of the ballots.

It was the second time the Hall of Fame changed its criteria, lowering the standard from 75 percent to 65 percent in 2001 after no one from the PGA Tour was elected.

Larry Nelson, who won 10 times and three major championships, finished second in the voting with 55 percent.

Curtis Strange, whose 17 victories include back-to-back U.S. Open titles, received 50 percent of the vote. Two-time major winners Henry Picard (49 percent) and Craig Woods (41 percent) rounded out the top five.

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., although it was not immediately clearly when Singh would be inducted.

Officials noted at the end of the announcement that players have a right to defer their induction if the ceremony conflicts with their playing schedule.

Singh last year became only the sixth player to win at least nine times on the PGA Tour, including the PGA Championship. He set the single-season earnings record with nearly $11 million.

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