ATLANTA (AP) — Fred Couples, a former Masters champion and one of the most popular figures in the game, was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Couples described himself as a good player, but not a great player, though he’s turned in some amazing performances.
Among his 15 wins on the PGA Tour are the 1992 Masters and two at The Players Championship, including an eagle-birdie-par finish in 1996. He played in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup five times each, and next year will be captain of the Presidents Cup for the third time. He was No. 1 in the world for four months in 1992.
“There are other people in the Hall of Fame that are maybe good players. But good is a good thing,” Couples said from Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. “I’ve been good at it for a long time, and I hope to continue to play a few more years.”
Couples was elected on the PGA Tour ballot with a record-low 51 percent. The minimum for election is 65 percent, although there is a clause that when no one gets the minimum, the leading vote-getter is elected provided he has at least 50 percent of the vote.
Vijay Singh was elected in 2005 with 56 percent.
Still to be announced are the results from the International ballot, along with who is selected from the Veteran’s category and Lifetime Achievement to round out the 2013 class. The induction will be May 6 — the Monday of The Players Championship — at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
The voters consist of international golf and sports media, Hall of Fame members, golf and sports historians and dignitaries from each of the major golf organizations.
Couples jokingly referred to the election as a popularity contest, although it did raise questions.
Davis Love III, who has won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship and The Players Championship twice, received 38 percent of the vote. He tied for second in the voting with Ken Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion who won 14 times and was the longtime analyst for CBS Sports.
Mark O’Meara won 16 times on the PGA Tour and two majors, both in 1998 when he became the oldest player to win two majors in one year. He was fourth in the voting with 36 percent of the vote.
Couples was the best in the world in the early 1990s, particularly during the early part of the PGA Tour season. His career was hampered by back injuries in 1994, though he remained competitive at certain events — especially Augusta National — even after turning 50.
“I’ve won 15 times and a major and all that,” Couples said. “But I think one of the things I’ve done well is played for a long time. Sometimes that is meaningless. I think when you get in the Hall of Fame, it’s more about the finishes you’ve had, and I know a lot about the baseball Hall of Fame. I know a little bit about the football Hall of Fame, and the way they talk about some people not getting in and waiting a long time.
“For me, at my age of 52, I think it’s certainly a great honor and great timing, because it will push me to play a couple more years and see how I can play.”
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