Even so, his credentials were thought to be borderline for the Hall of Fame, a notch below the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins. What figured to help O'Meara is that the standard inevitably would be lower as golf became deeper with talent, making it tougher to win. And that's the direction it's going.
But it was no less surprising that Couples, with 15 tour wins and one major, would get voted in ahead of two players from the same era who had stronger records.
Couples received 51 percent of the vote, the lowest ever on the PGA Tour ballot. Love tied for second (38 percent), even though he has 20 wins and a major. Ken Venturi, who also had 38 percent of the vote, recently was selected through Lifetime Achievement. O'Meara, with 16 wins and two majors, was fourth at 36 percent.
The news was tough to take.
"I flipped on the TV and I saw Fred," O'Meara recalled. "The last time I had seen Fred, he hit a drive off the first tee in Seattle and couldn't play because of a bad back. He's on a chair at what looked like Riviera. I turn it up and I hear him talk about getting a phone call from the commissioner and the Hall of Fame. It was disappointing. No disrespect at all to Fred Couples, who has had a lovely career. I understand that he won two TPCs, the Masters. But I won more PGA Tour events, more majors. I won a U.S. Amateur. I mention this to Bernhard Langer and he said, 'You're going to get in.' Is it when I stop playing? When I'm 6 feet under. When there's no one left to put in?"
About all O'Meara can do is wait for the next election and hope his record is not overlooked again.
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