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Six inducted into Hall of Fame

Bernhard Langer started playing golf at the age of 8 using four clubs with bamboo shafts. At about the same age, Ben Crenshaw got started with a cut-down mashie and a blade putter.

Marlene Hagge was just 3 when her dad first put a club in her hand. And Tommy Bolt, a late bloomer at the age of 14, learned to love the game and those black-and-white winged tips the men he caddied for used to wear.

Along the way, the five found caring teachers like Harvey Penick to nurture careers that brought them to the pinnacle of their professions. And on Friday night the six found themselves the newest members of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

The festivities featured messages from one former president and his son, the current leader of the United States, who are both close friends of Crenshaw. More than a few emotional moments and two hours later, the dark sky behind the World Golf Village was illuminated by a brilliant display of fireworks as the ceremony came to an end.

Two of Friday night's inductees still actively play the game -- Crenshaw on the Champions Tour and Langer on both sides of the Atlantic. Langer, in fact, shared the Volvo Masters title with Colin Montgomerie last weekend and arrived here fresh from competing in the UBS Warburg Cup earlier in the day.

"What a great privilege and honor it is to be a small part of the history of this game," said Langer, who joked that his four well-publicized bouts with the yips might be attributed to the bent putter he played with as a child.

The quiet German said he confounded his school system when he told them he wanted to be a golf pro -- and they strongly recommended he find another profession. Langer, who went on to win two Masters titles and 64 Tournaments worldwide, just played in his 10th Ryder Cup and is a strong candidate to captain the next European side.

"Your joining the World Golf Hall of Fame along with Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo means that Europe's modern triumvirate is right where it should be," said European Tour Commissioner Ken Schofield, who had come to induct Jacklin.

Jacklin captained the European Ryder Cup team four times in the 1980s -- guiding the team to its first win in 28 years in 1985 and its first victory on U.S. soil in 1987 at Muirfield. His leadership went a long way toward elevating the competition to the status it enjoys today.

The son of a steelworker, the self-taught Jacklin went on to win 27 times around the world. There were many stepping stones, though. A win at the Greater Jacksonville Open helped give him the confidence to capture the 1969 British Open which, in turn, aided in his 1970 U.S. Open win at Hazeltine National.

"That was the best golf I could imagine," said Jacklin, who has lived in the United States for the last nine years. "I walked on water that week."

The 86-year-old Bolt and Hagge, now 68, both were inducted in the Veterans Category. Bolt, known for his temper as well as his big heart, won the 1958 U.S. Open and 14 other PGA Tour events. He poked fun at himself and entertained the crowd Friday evening with several tales of his club-throwing ability.

"I would like to thank the members of the committee for nominating me so quickly," Bolt said. "If they'd waited 15 or 20 more years, I might have gone back to drinking."

Hagge, who turned pro several weeks before her 16th birthday, was a founding member of the LPGA. She went on to win 26 times in a span of five decades.

"All of you have heard (your parents say) 'One day you'll thank me for this,'" said Hagge, whose sister Alice was also an accomplished pro. "Well, I did, and I do."

Penick and Crenshaw are inextricably linked as teacher and pupil, mentor and friend. Penick began to caddy at the age of 8 and was the head pro at Austin Country Club, where Crenshaw would learn to play, 10 years later. He taught there well into his 80s, watching his students in a cart or a wheelchair, his nurse at his side.

"He was almost like a priest in his devotion to the game," another WGHOF member, Jackie Burke Jr., said in tribute.

Penick was known for his simple, straightforward approach to the game and he taught a host of WGHOF members -- including Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Betsy Rawls -- as well as future candidates like Tom Kite. Crenshaw won his second Masters just days after serving as a pallbearer at Penick's funeral in 1995.

"We buried our friend and I don't know what happened," said Crenshaw, a 19-time winner on the PGA Tour. "I just know that the Lord somehow honored him through me. I played like a kid that week."

Penick authored some of the best-selling instruction manuals in history when he was in his 80s -- the "Little Red Book" and "Little Green Book." He was named the PGA of America's Teacher of the Year in 1992.

"All golfers are his friends and all the people who have read his book are his pupils," said his son, Tinsley Penick, as he accepted the award on his late father's behalf.

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