Tiger Woods long ago established his credentials for the World Golf Hall of Fame. It appears he’s one step closer to that distinction, thanks to changes in the eligibility criteria.
On Tuesday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced it has reduced the minimum age for induction from 50 to 45 years old, starting with the 2021 class. A player will be eligible for induction provided he or she turns 45 the year of the Induction Ceremony or is retired for at least three years. Woods, winner of 82 PGA Tour titles, tied with Sam Snead for most all time, turns 45 in December, meaning he will be eligible next year.
Just four years ago the minimum age for Hall induction was increased from 40 to 50 years old, after the inductions of such notable players as Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, who were 42 and 43, respectively.
“Recognizing the game’s greatest players and contributors is an important endeavor and one our sport takes very seriously,” said World Golf Foundation Board Chairman and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “We are committed to regularly evaluating the selection process to ensure we approach it with both historical context and the future in mind.”
In addition to Woods, the age change provides the possibility for several other prominent players who haven’t yet turned 50 to be considered for induction in 2021, including Henrik Stenson, Sophie Gustafson, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood.
Additional changes approved by the Hall’s Board of Directors include elimination of the Veterans category and replacing the “Lifetime Achievement” recognition with a “Contributor” designation.
The Veterans category had been established in 2000 to ensure competitors who played in earlier eras had an opportunity to be considered for induction. During the last 20 years, 19 individuals have been selected for Induction through this category. In 2015, it was decided the category would expire following the Class of 2019. The last player selected through the Veterans category was Willie Park, Jr. in 2013.
This streamlines the eligibility categories for the Hall of Fame to three:
Minimum eligibility requirement: A player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour or PGA of Australasia, OR at least two victories among the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship and the Players Championship.
• FemaleMinimum eligibility requirement: A player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on the LPGA, LET, Japan LPGA, Korea LPGA or Australia Ladies Professional Golf, OR at least two victories among the U.S. Women’s Open, Women’s PGA Championship, du Maurier Classic (19789-2000), Women’s British Open (2001-current), ANA Inspiration (1983-current) and the Evian Championship (2013-current).
Open to all non-professional golfers with ties to the game.
“We believe the age change is in the best interest of the Hall of Fame long-term,” said Greg McLaughlin, World Golf Foundation CEO who also oversees the Hall of Fame, “and provides a great balance of allowing players to be able to both reflect on their accomplishments, while also giving fans a chance to watch Hall of Famers compete at the highest level.”
The nominating and selection committees, which have recently undergone changes, are scheduled to meet later this year to determine the next class. Those committees have been expanded to include 18 media members. Hall of Fame members Beth Daniel, Nick Price and Curtis Strange will join Annika Sorenstam as co-chairs of the selection committee, replacing Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Nancy Lopez.
A date and location for the 2021 induction ceremony has yet to be determined.