Monday, April 24, 2006

Larry Nelson Gets His Due

Larry Nelson was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame last week. It was an honor that is long overdue for a player that has been underrated far too long.

Though Nelson won only ten tournaments on the PGA TOUR, three of them were majors. Those three came in the 1980's, and only Hall of Famers Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Seve Ballesteros won that many majors in during that span.

Golf writer Jeff Rude takes exception to Nelson being elected while three other golfers with more TOUR victories remain unelected. He notes that Lanny Wadkins, Hubert Green, and Curtis Strange each won roughly twice the tournaments that Nelson did.

Rude fails to give adequate weight to the fact that Nelson's three majors dwarf the one major each that Wadkins and Green won. Also, Nelson is the one of the best Ryder Cup players the US has ever produced. In 1979, he became the only player to go 5-0 in a single Ryder Cup, and four of those victories came over Europe's premier player, Seve Ballesteros.

Rude's argument is that Wadkins, Green, and Strange deserve enshrinement in the Hall more than Nelson because they won more tournaments. That view overlooks the importance and pressure of the stages where Nelson had his biggest moments.

I am glad the Hall of Fame finally recognized how underappreciated Larry Nelson has been. It's too bad Rude didn't get the memo.


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