John Hawkins contends that Watson, whose 12 PGA Tour victories include 2 green jackets, has not yet passed the admission test, but Mike Purkey counters with 2 words as a benchmark: Fred Couples
Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.
Bubba Watson is a three-time winner at Riviera and has 12 PGA Tour victories overall, including a pair of Masters titles. Has he accomplished enough to earn induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame?
Hawk’s take: Will he get in? Without a doubt. Should he get in? I think not, at least not yet. Watson has compiled a very nice career, especially for a guy who was lightly regarded as an amateur and didn’t pick up his first pro victory until midway into his fifth season on the PGA Tour. He belongs in the Hall of Very Good, as longtime golf writer Jeff Rude used to say, which is far more of an indictment of the WGHOF’s comically low standards than it is of Watson’s body of work.
A third major title would change my thinking, although that is becoming less and less likely as Bubba heads toward his mid-40s. Colin Montgomerie was enshrined despite never winning a Tour event in the United States. He remains atop my unworthy list among those already inducted, although it’s easy to see how Monty’s election served as an attempt to add international blood from a period when very few foreign golfers were winning big tournaments.
A hall of fame has one simple mission: to define and anoint greatness. Eligibility standards should be exceedingly high, and to this point, I don’t think Watson has met them. The difference between great and very good has been compromised, which is the biggest reason why the WGHOF has failed to reach a proper degree of credibility.
Purk’s take: For anyone who believes Bubba Watson is not worthy of membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame, I have two words:
Yes, Couples was inducted into the hall in 2013 with 15 PGA Tour victories, including one – yes, count ’em, one – major championship, the 1992 Masters. At the time, the rationalizers and the justifiers said it’s a hall of “fame,” not a hall of “accomplishments.” I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.
However, like it or not, it’s the line of demarcation. Watson has 12 PGA Tour wins, including two Masters and three wins at Riviera. Under the Couples Rule, Watson has enough cred to get into the hall. David Graham is in the hall with two majors within his eight Tour wins. Retief Goosen got in last year with two majors included in his seven PGA Tour titles. Yes, they won on other tours, but the PGA Tour is the toughest test in the world and should be weighted as such.
Whether Watson will get the votes is another matter. But if you make the rules, you have to abide by them, and in that case, Bubba should get a WGHOF jacket to go with his two green ones.
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