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Mark McCormack to enter Hall of Fame

The late Mark McCormack, once dubbed the most powerful man in sport, will become a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame on Oct. 30 as part of the class of 2006, officials said on Wednesday.

A pioneer of the sports marketing industry and founder of golf's official world rankings, McCormack was selected through the lifetime achievement category by the World Golf Foundation (WGF) board of directors selection committee.

McCormack, whose signing of Arnold Palmer in 1960 ushered in his International Management Group (IMG) company, died on May 16, 2003 after failing to recover from a heart attack.

"Without him professional golfers would not enjoy the rewards they get today," Hall of Fame member and former Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) secretary Michael Bonallack told a news conference at Hoylake on Wednesday.

"He helped grow the prize money, attracted sponsors to the game and attracted television. He was quite a remarkable man.

"And he looked at the much broader field. He looked at the benefit of the game and it was this that led him to start the course of the world rankings, which was his baby, his idea.

"That was done for the benefit of golf, not for the benefit of IMG players.

"He was a great friend of the R&A and I think he, of all people, is most worthy to be in the Hall of Fame."

IMG represents a host of athletes ranging from McCormack's first clients, such as golfers Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and former Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy, to grand slam tennis champions Pete Sampras and sisters Serena and Venus Williams.

The company, which has over 3,000 employees and sells more than 5,000 annual hours of television programming to over 200 countries around the world, has also represented tennis players Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Andre Agassi.

McCormack's reach stretched much further than the world of sport. He handled special projects for global leaders, such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, ex-Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and the Pope.

McCormack will be inducted posthumously at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida along with Vijay Singh, Larry Nelson, LPGA pioneer Marilynn Smith and (also posthumously) Henry Picard.

Former major winners Singh and Nelson were elected on the PGA Tour ballot while Picard, winner of the 1938 U.S. Masters, was selected through the veterans' category.

Smith, a winner of 21 LPGA Tour titles and LPGA president from 1958 to 1960, was chosen through the lifetime achievement category.



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