Ernie Els gets Hall of Fame call at age 40

South African, 40, elected to Hall in 1st year on ballot

September 23, 2010

ATLANTA — Ernie Els didn't have to wait long to take his place in the Hall of Fame.

The South African headlines the newest induction class announced Wednesday — not only elected in his first year on the ballot but the youngest to enter under the current voting procedure.

"It's nice to get in quickly," said Els, whose 57 victories as a professional include two U.S. Opens, the 2002 British Open and this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational and World Golf Championships event.

Els, 40, will be enshrined inMay as part of a five-man class that includes double-major winners Doug Ford and Jock Hutchison.

Under current rules, a PGA Tour player is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration upon turning 40. However, no one had been elected at that age in the 12 years since the shrine was resurrected in St. Augustine, Fla.

Ford and Hutchison were chosen by the veterans committee. Former President George H.W. Bush was selected as a lifetime-achievement inductee for helping to raise golf's profile, particularly as honorary chairman of The First Tee.

A fifth enshrinee, via the international ballot, will be announced next month.

Lucky 13th? The Tour Championship marks the 13th time that Phil Mickelson has a chance to unseat Tiger Woods atop the world rankings, and his chances are going backward.

Earlier this summer, Mickelson could have taken over as No. 1 by finishing as low as fourth. This week's scenario requires him to win or finish in no worse than a three-way tie for second.

"I know that I've had multiple opportunities for months, and I haven't played well enough to do it," said Mickelson, who nonetheless believes his current game is better than his Masters triumph in April.

Even so, Mickelson has taken his name out of next month's PGA Grand Slam of Golf, pitting the year's four major winners in a two-day event in Bermuda. Els will step in as the former major winner with the best set of finishes at this year's major stops.

Tap-ins: The LPGA returns to the Los Angeles area for the first time since 2005 when next year's Kia Classic moves to Industry Hills Golf Club. … Make that 76 career victories worldwide for Laura Davies, who captured last week's Spanish Women's Open. And still no Hall of Fame call.

— Jeff Shain

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