Golf Australia

David Graham elected to World Golf Hall of Fame

David Graham
David Graham
David Graham has joined the immortals. The Australian who won two majors in the 1970s and 1980s has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Only four Australians have reached the WGHF -- Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Greg Norman and Karrie Webb -- before Graham.

The 68-year-old Graham, who lives in the United States, has previous said he was disappointed not to have been inducted.

On this occasion, he was supported by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, a fact that he acknowledged in a media conference. "Yeah, it’s been a long time, but like they say, good things are worth waiting for,'' Graham said.  "I want to thank the selection committee for appointing me to the Hall.  It’s a great honor, and I’m delighted.  I think it would be very apropos if I really congratulated Arnold and Jack knowing that they supported me in this process.''

Graham won the 1979 United States PGA Championship at Oakland Hills and then in 1981 became the first Australian to win the US Open, at Merion, with a final-round 67 in brutal conditions that is regarded as one of the best championship rounds ever played.

In both majors, he came from behind. He won eight times on the US Tour, twice in Europe and also won a World Cup for Australia, with Graham Marsh, and an Australian Open in 1977.

"I think for players at the level that I played, I went to all of the majors with high expectations of playing well and trying to win,'' Graham said.  "But you think of the accomplishment of a Jack Nicklaus who won 18 of these things, and you know, to win one is a blessing, let alone win two.

Of course my greatest feeling was when I won the PGA.I beat Ben Crenshaw in a playoff, and I think my only supporter in the gallery was my wife.  I mean, Ben was the all American kid.  He was the next Jack Nicklaus.

"The stars were aligned when I won that tournament because I played the first and second hole of the playoff not very well in comparison, and I just made a couple of ridiculous putts, and I still don’t have any understanding of how that happened and don’t want to, to be honest with you.

"Merion (1981)was just the perfect golf course for players that played like me.  I played straight.  I was a good iron player, and I putted that particular week like magic.  I think when you win majors, you do putt like magic.  But that course just fitted my game.  It was a nice right to left course, which was the way I played.Oakland Hills, maybe the best 17 holes of golf I ever played was at Oakland Hills because I was nine-under par before double bogeying the last hole, so that was not supposed to happen on that golf course.  Yeah, it’s nice to win on those type courses.''

Graham hit every green on that final day in Merion, playing the precision golf he was renowned for. "I knew I was playing pretty well because I was in the last group on Sunday, so that’s a no brainer to figure that out,'' he said.  "But I had rebuilt my swing over many years, mainly with Bruce Devlin’s help, but I played a practice round one time with Gary Player, and he told me, 'you need to lengthen your swing a little bit', and so he told me to get this very heavy weighted club, which I built.  Actually I built it in Jack Nicklaus’s club repair shop in Palm Beach, Florida, and I had swung it for a couple of years every day.

"I played on Wednesday at Merion with Gary Player, and we walked off the golf course, and he said to me, 'I can’t believe you haven’t won one of these yet'.  He said, 'you’re playing beautifully'.  I guess I took that as obviously a pretty positive thing and a very nice thing for him to say, and I played very well on Thursday, but Sunday in particular, Merion was the type of course that you could do that.  There were iron shots off the tees to play conservatively, but in those days before they lengthened it, they were all short to mid irons to the greens, so it was relatively easy to hit fairways and hit greens if you were on your game.

"I was just blessed.  Number one, I was at Merion.  Number two, it was a US Open.  Number three, it was Sunday, it was on national television, and you won.  So I had five things that brought attention to that round of golf.  It was really fun, and Ben Hogan was very kind enough to call me and compliment me on that.  Everything was just perfect that day.''

Englishwoman Laura Davies, American Mark O’Meara and course architect AW Tillinghast were also chosen in the class of 2015. The inductions will take place at St Andrews this year during the Open Championship.


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