Couples became the first American to reach No. 1 in the world and won the Masters Tournament by a blade of grass that kept his ball from trickling into Rae’s Creek. Montgomerie found fame on the European Tour, where he won the Order of Merit a record seven times in a row, though he never won a major.
Couples sauntered down the fairways, the essence of cool. Montgomerie walked with his head down, so intense he never looked like he was having much fun.
They shared the stage Monday night when both were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, along with three others in the Class of 2013. The others were former U.S. Open champion and broadcaster Ken Venturi, former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield and two-time British Open champion and architect Willie Park Jr.
That brings the Hall of Fame to 146 members.
Couples talked about his childhood in Seattle, when his mother gave him $5 a day in the summer to play at Jefferson Park. He couldn’t afford to buy a glove, and Couples still plays without one. He got choked up when he mentioned watching a PGA Tour player to put on a clinic in town when Couples was 14.
“I wasn’t really the person who said, ‘That’s what I want to do, I’m going to be a PGA Tour player.’ But I knew I wanted to really, really get involved in golf,” Couples said. “And the gentleman’s name was Lee Trevino, who has been a mentor and someone I love.”
Couples didn’t look at his notes or used the teleprompter in the back of the room.
He was overcome with emotion at the end of the night, reading two sentences from a piece of paper.
“Thanks for taking a kid from Seattle and putting him in the Hall of Fame,” Couples said as his chin buckled. “This is the coolest night of my life.”
He walked off the stage in tears.
Montgomerie won 31 times on the European Tour, the most of any British player, and he was a stalwart in the Ryder Cup. The Scot played in eight of them and never lost in singles (6-0-2) while competing on six winning teams. He also was the winning captain in Wales in 2010.
Venturi has been hospitalized for the past two months and could not attend the ceremony. Nantz, his former CBS golf partner, accepted on his behalf.
Schofield, also selected through Lifetime Achievement, was head of the European Tour from 1975 to 2004. He rode the presence of Europe’s “Big Five” — Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam — to get the tour onto a global stage. The tour went from 17 events when he started to 45 events when he retired. He also paved the way for the tour to go beyond continental Europe, and to include the continent in the Ryder Cup.
Park joins his father in the Hall of Fame, and the son probably should have been enshrined already. He won the British Open in 1887 and 1889, and then broadened his influence on golf by building clubs, golf courses and writing. His book in 1896, “The Game of Golf,” was the first written by a golf professional. He later wrote “The Art of Putting” that was published in 1920.
Among the golf courses he built were the Old Course at Sunningdale outside London, Maidstone on Long Island in New York and Olympia Fields outside Chicago.