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Nick Price to be inducted into Hall of Fame

The World Golf Hall of Fame wasn't on the radar, at least not the one Nick Price was looking at while serving in the Rhodesian Air Force in the late 1970s.

Golf's premier shotmaker took his share of shots -- the kind that go whizzing past the ear -- while flying in a helicopter across the country to quell various uprisings.

"I spent two years in the Air Force. That was good fun, except for being shot at," Price said. "I fired back a few times, but I didn't know where I was shooting."

He didn't know where life would lead as his Air Force stint was ending. Price's mother encouraged him to build on his amateur success, to give professional golf a try to see if he was good enough. If not, he could find another career.

"In the back of my mind, I wanted to be a professional, but that was a dream," he said. "I just didn't know if I was ever going to make the grade."

Price dominated the game like Jack Nicklaus two decades before him and like Tiger Woods does now. He won three major championships, 41 tournaments worldwide, enormous respect from his peers and, finally, a spot in the Hall of Fame.

"He's one of the greatest players we've ever had, as well as one of the greatest guys out here," Davis Love III said. "People forget how great he played for so many years. For that one stretch, he played Tiger Woods-Jack Nicklaus dominating golf."

Price is to be inducted tonight along with Annika Sorenstam (LPGA), the late Leo Diegel (veteran's category) and Japanese star Chako Higuchi (lifetime achievement).

He was elected through the PGA Tour ballot, receiving 76 percent of the vote. Only 65 percent is required.

Diegel won 31 times on the PGA Tour, including the PGA Championship in 1928 and 1929, ending Walter Hagen's four-year reign. Diegel, who died in 1951, also played on the first Ryder Cup team.

Higuchi is the only Japanese player to win a major, capturing the 1977 LPGA Championship. Most of her success was on the Japanese LPGA, where she won more than 70 titles.

Sorenstam became the 100th member of the World Golf Hall of Fame last week by completing her 10th year on the LPGA Tour. She took care of the golf requirements more than three years ago, and enters at age 33 with 47 victories, the career Grand Slam and a historic performance on the PGA Tour at the Colonial.

"I'm still in my prime," Sorenstam said. "To be in the Hall of Fame, it kind of makes me sound old. "But I feel younger than ever."

A little known fact about Price: He started playing as a lefty.

Price walked onto a golf course for the first time when he was 8, but only because his brother needed someone to tote his canvas bag.

"There must have been 40 (clubs), a hodgepodge of everything," Price said. "It had one left-handed club. I pulled out this 5-iron and started whacking it down the fairway."

He switched sides when he couldn't find enough clubs, and the passion grew.

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