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Tommy Bolt elected to Hall of Fame

Tommy Bolt, who entertained galleries with a game that won a U.S. Open and a temper that earned him the nickname ``Terrible Tommy,'' was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame through the veteran's category Wednesday.

Bolt will be inducted Nov. 15 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., along with Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw, Tony Jacklin and Marlene Hagge of the LPGA Tour.

That will bring the Hall of Fame membership to 94.

``It's unbelievable,'' the 84-year-old Bolt said. ``I appreciate it so much. I'm very proud to be in the Hall of Fame.''

Bolt won 15 times over 10 years, starting with the North & South Open at Pinehurst in 1951. He remained competitive even at age 53, when he was tied with Jack Nicklaus with nine holes left in the 1971 PGA Championship before finishing third, three strokes back.

But it was the 1958 U.S. Open at Southern Hills -- and his temper -- that brought Bolt so much acclaim.

``I was probably playing better golf than anybody in the world at that particular time,'' Bolt said. ``I had complete control of my emotions. I birdied the first hole, looked back toward the clubhouse and said, 'I wonder who's going to finish second.' I know that sounds cocky, but that was the way I felt.''

He led wire-to-wire, finishing four strokes ahead of Gary Player.

Bolt says his reputation for throwing clubs was blown out of proportion.

``I threw a couple of clubs,'' he said. ``I'm human, like the other guys, but I always threw them at the most opportune time. I always had the camera on me. I never blamed it on anyone but myself -- not my caddie, or a camera clicking or the gallery.''

He was never offended by the nickname, either.

``People recognized me for who I am -- a golfer showing my emotions,'' he said.

Bolt credited Ben Hogan with turning around his career. He went to see Hogan in 1955 when he was struggling with a hook, and said Hogan showed him how to grip the club to avoid hitting to the left.

``It took me about a month of constant practice to get acclimated to this new grip, but I learned not to fear the hook,'' Bolt said. ``That changed my whole outlook on golf.''

Bolt still plays nine holes a day at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla., north of Tampa. He said he no longer gets up early in the morning, preferring to play in the afternoon because on tour, ``the late starters were always leading the tournament.''

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem called Bolt ``one of the great personalities to have ever played the game.''

``He was a great showman, and he had a lot to do with the growth of the game because of the interest and excitement he instilled in the fans,'' Finchem said.


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