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Ballesteros, Alcott & Mangrum enter Hall of Fame

Seve Ballesteros was standing at the podium during his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame when the power failed and the sound system went dead. The dashing Spaniard never lost his poise.

"This has happened to be before," he quipped.

His game didn't always go according to plan, at least that's how it looked. Not many players have won a major championship by making birdie from a parking lot. Growing up with only a cut-down 3-iron in his hand, Ballesteros learned to hit shots that others never imagined.

On Monday, he took his place among the game's greats.

"Who was going to tell me that a little boy who started as a caddie in Pedrena, a small village in Spain, would be here today," said Ballesteros, the winner of five major championships and nearly 80 tournaments around the world.

Amy Alcott made the biggest splash of her career when she became the first LPGA member to be inducted since Betsy King in 1995. Also inducted was the late Lloyd Mangrum, who won two Purple Hearts in World War II and the U.S. Open in 1946.

With 11 members of the Hall of Fame looking on under a blazing sun, the induction of Ballesteros, Alcott and Mangrum brought the number to 76 of those enshrined at the World Golf Village.

"I'm a little numb," Alcott said. ``I look down that list and I've taken my place."

Ballesteros was elected last year on the international ballot, but deferred his induction until Monday. Alcott, whose 29 victories include five major championships, became eligible in February when the LPGA changed its criteria. Mangrum was elected on the PGA Tour ballot in October.

"Golf gave a little girl the life she imagined sitting in front of a television," Alcott said. "I was mesmerized by the rhythm of the swing, the sound of the golf ball, the whole dance. It's been a great dance, and I hope to keep dancing."

Ballesteros and Alcott grew up in different worlds and played different tours. All that links them is the way they discovered golf -- Alcott with a cut-down club she used to tear up her yard in Santa Monica, Calif., Ballesteros with a 3-iron that taught him shots few others would even dream of hitting.

"I have a lot of imagination," Ballesteros said. ``That came from learning the game with only one club."

The 41-year-old Spaniard made a spectacular debut at the 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale. Although he lost a third-round lead to Johnny Miller, his bump-and-run that threaded two bunkers on the closing hole served notice that there would never be a dull moment when he was around.

He won the Open three years later at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, making a birdie from a parking lot on the 16th hole in the final round. Ballesteros won two more British Opens, along with the Masters in 1980 and 1983.

He also became the heart and soul of the Ryder Cup, his intensity and determination making it the biggest worldwide event in golf, and he was idolized by today's young stars in Europe.

"Obviously, Arnold Palmer did more in America than I did in Europe," Ballesteros said. "I feel very proud to help the people back in Europe. I as the one who opened the door for them. And I feel very good about that."

Alcott's impact on women's golf goes beyond the record she shares with JoAnne Carner for winning at least once her first 12 years on tour. She's responsible for victory splash at the Nabisco Dinah Shore, which began when she won in 1988.

She took host Dinah Shore into the pond with her in 1991, the last time Alcott won on tour. She would have needed one more victory to get into the Hall of Fame under the previous requirements, which were so difficult that it was regarded the toughest shrine in sports to enter.

Under the new points system approved in February, Alcott would have qualified 14 years ago.

Mangrum won most of his 36 victories after an Army career that took him to Omaha Beach on D-Day and earned him two Purple Hearts. He won the 1946 U.S. Open, was a member of five Ryder Cup teams and won the Vardon Trophy twice.

He was represented by his stepson and was introduced by Byron Nelson.

"He was a great golfer who was somewhat forgotten," Nelson said. ``He was a tough competitor and an excellent putter. Any time you beat him, you could know you were playing well."

 

TRW