Jury out on major light inductees to golf's fabled Hall of Fame

Story highlights

  • Golf picks its Hall of Fame inductees annually
  • Announcement made at PGA Tour's Players tournament at Sawgrass
  • Colin Montgomerie and Fred Couples picked in the player category for 2013
  • Choices have prompting stinging criticism from former great Ray Floyd

It's become as much an integral part of the annual golfing calendar as any tournament.

Every year in the week of the Players tournament at TPC Sawgrass, a select few are inducted to World Golf's Hall of Fame (WGHOF).

But the 2013 ceremony on May 6 is not without a degree of controversy -- thanks to the caustic observations of one of the Hall of Fame's very own.

Members are elected in five different categories -- principally the PGA Tour ballot and the International ballot -- for players who compete outside the U.S. circuit.

The criteria for getting on the ballot takes into account how many tournaments you have won -- with extra credit given for the four majors and the Players tournament, which is often dubbed the 'fifth major."

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But in the view of American golfer Ray Floyd -- a four time major winner elected to the Hall of Fame in the 1980s -- it has become a club that is too easy to join.

Angry Floyd

In an interview with Golf Magazine the straight talking former Ryder Cup captain let rip:

"The bar has been lowered. Guys get voted into the Hall of Fame who don't belong, who lack the numbers. I'm very upset at the Hall of Fame for that. It's not fair to the people who went in early."

"Just look at the inductees over the last six, eight, 10 years," Floyd added.

"Some years, I don't even vote because the names are not worthy of induction. One major should not get you into the Hall of Fame -- maybe one major and 40 wins."

"I'll just say that you should have at least two majors. At least," he explained. "Wow, there are guys in there that it's a joke. It takes integrity away from the term Hall of Fame," he added.

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Floyd did not name names -- but few doubted he was targeting two of this year's intake -- Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie.

Couples only won one major - the U.S. Masters in 1992. Montgomerie famously won none, coming second five times.

A giant on the European tour and in the Ryder Cup, the Scot never managed to grab one of the prizes all his peers strive for.

Stout defense

The WGHOF chief operating officer, Jack Peter, told CNN's Living Golf that he welcomed an honest exchange of views of the merits or otherwise of inductees.

"We love the debate," he said with a smile.

"It's an election that we administer and it's a bit of a ' let the chips fall where they may' in terms of who gets elected."

But he's quick to firmly defend this year's choices, including the major-less Monty:

"What Colin's body of work has done for the European tour, for the game in Europe, his contribution to the Ryder Cup -- it's extraordinary.

"And I don't think because he has not won majors precludes him from the Hall of Fame. We want to celebrate the game. We want to recognize greatness."

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It's possible the controversy could build in years to come. There are several star players -- Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia -- who still can't win one of the four majors.

Lively debate

And yet some other major winners in recent years -- Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Ben Curtis -- have won only a handful of other tournaments.

But if debate stirs interest, Peter is happy.

"We administer the ballot. Should it be more strict -- maybe; should it be less strict -- maybe. There's a number of scenarios here that you could put together to do this, but were pretty comfortable with where we are.

"It is about fame, it's a vote, and he got the votes. Should he have more wins, less wins, I leave that to you guys in the media"

Montgomerie and Couples are joined in the Hall of Fame this year by former U.S. Open champion and broadcaster Ken Venturi; Ken Schofield, the previous head of the European Tour, as well as the course designer Willie Park Jr, a British Open champion from the 19th century.

Who knows what he would have made of it all.