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Greg Norman inducted to Hall of Fame

Larry Mize wasn't a topic of conversation Sunday night. Neither was Bob Tway.

Instead, it was a celebration of Greg Norman's grace under fire, where he found himself so often during the prime of a Hall of Fame career.

The 46-year-old Norman -- the only player to lose all four major tournaments in playoffs -- was one of six inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Sunday night during a 90-minute ceremony at the World Golf Village.

Also honored were Payne Stewart, Karsten Solheim, Donna Caponi, Allan Robertson and Judy Bell as the number of Hall of Fame members increased to 90 on a touching evening on the East Coast of Florida.

Norman was the featured attraction, as he was during a tragic career that will be remembered more for what he didn't win than what he did.

The Australian took the PGA Tour by storm in the mid-1980s but ended up getting caught in his own wake, often drowning in one disheartening setback after another.

One was at the 1987 Masters, where Mize chipped in from some 140 feet en route to victory. Another was at the 1986 PGA Championship, where Bob Tway holed a bunker shot to win.

Norman also suffered a collapse at Augusta National in 1996, shooting a final-round 78 to let a six-stroke lead and that elusive Masters title slip through his hands.

Nicknamed "The Shark," the tanned, white-haired Norman spoke of his setbacks and how they helped him become a great loser.

"The game of golf can give you a lot, but the game of golf can take a lot from you," said Norman, who played in the PGA Tour's Franklin Templeton Classic earlier in the day. "Being a great loser is probably the hardest thing to do in life."

Norman said he learned that from Jack Nicklaus, whom he called a "great winner."

Norman wasn't so bad at winning, either. He has two British Opens among his 18 PGA Tour titles, owns more than 70 triumphs worldwide and no one has been ranked No. 1 in the world longer.

A contemporary of Norman's, Stewart was inducted just over two years after he died tragically in a plane crash. He won 18 titles, including a pair of U.S. Opens, while wearing his trademark knickers and tam o'shanter cap.

Stewart's wife, Tracey, was on hand Sunday, along with their two children. The Stewarts would have celebrated their 20th anniversary a day before the ceremony.

"Payne always dreamed of having a Hall of Fame career," Tracey Stewart said. "He would have cherished the honor of being with you here."

Bell did cherish the honor. A lifelong amateur elected through the lifetime achievement category, Bell recently was diagnosed with cancer.

"They say it's treatable," said Bell, who was selected for the Curtis Cup in 1960 and 1962 and captained the U.S. team in 1986 and 1988. "I'm optimistic, and I'll to behave myself."

Solheim, who died last year of Parkinson's disease at the age of 88, was inducted for a sound as much as anything else. He developed a putter that made a "ping" noise and became one of his great innovations.

Caponi, a selection by the LPGA Tour's veteran's committee, won 24 titles, including four majors, after turning professional at the age of 19. She currently works as a television analyst.

Robertston also was a veteran's committee selection. Credited as the first golf pro in the 19th century, he was the first player to break 80 at the Old Course at St. Andrews.


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