It was a Strange night here at the Hall of Fame induction. Not only did brothers Allan and Curtis steal the show, but Curtis prominently thanked the media, thereby beating the over-and-under that anyone would, which was zero.
I know that sounds terribly self-absorbed and whiney, but for whatever reason it's rare that Hall of Fame members acknowledge the media (Annika, notably, did) and the fact that Curtis would, having taken so many shots for his less-than-crowd-pleasing demeanor, was an upset. "To the press, yes, the press," he began, "I want to thank you... but I don't have the time." Then he got serious: "Thank you for all you have done for the game...and for treating me fairly."
It was a night when Curtis was at his most reflective and appreciative, and the ceremony became a celebration of family, his and others. "I thought that could do it alone," said the humble Curtis of his attitude as a young golfer. I thought that I could do a lot of things alone. And I couldn't." And then he thanked his parents, his friends in Virginia, the members at Bow Creek, where his father was the golf professional and Curtis learned the game and, movingly, his wife Sara. I'm a softee, but this was what inductions are made for.
Brother Allan was superb. Curtis has always been, Allan said, that kind of player who "had the willingness to the [big] shot, and had the talent to back it up." What made Curtis so strong? Allan asked. "His honesty, his intensity...his stubborness." He named great shots that defined Curtis' career--the bunker shot at 18 at the Country Club in 1988, for example, that sent him into the playoff with Faldo, which Strange would win--and said that these were presaged by the 13-year-old Curtis' play in the 1968 Bow Creek Club Championship, where he also got up and down from a bunker and went on to win. "I'm incredibly proud of my brother today," said Allan,"but no more proud than I was then. I'm proud to introduce the 1968 Bow Creek Men's Cub Champion...Curtis Strange."
In the end, this warm feeling of family overshadowed all else, even the obvious international theme--David Fay spoke on behalf of C.B. MacDonald; Jack Nicklaus honored Joe Carr, the first Irishman in the Hall; and Nancy Lopez, looking as vibrant as she did in her playing days, paid tribute to Se Ri Pak, who was charming in her acceptance. Indeed, the night concluded as Hubert Green, after acknowledging his parents and his brother Maurice, told how his doctor father, who rarely praised the boys had, after Hubert had upgraded the two of them on an long international flight, said: "Son, ya' done good."
Concluded Hubert: "I sure hope Doc is up there tonight leaning over to Mildred saying, 'He done good.'"
And why wouldn't he be?