(Reuters) – Ian Woosnam, a metaphorical giant of the game, used his World Golf Hall of Fame induction on Tuesday to joke about a time he was told he was too small to ever succeed at the sport.
“I was once asked by a member of my golf club around the age of 14, he said, ‘young Woosnam, what are you going to do when you leave school?’” the diminutive Welshman said at the New York ceremony.
”I said, ‘I‘m going to be a professional golfer, like my heroes, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. I want to travel the world, win golf tournaments and majors and become the best golfer in the world.’
”He laughed, and he tapped me on the head and said, ‘well, if you want to try to achieve all that, you’re going to have to grow a little’.
“He was right. I did grow a little, about four inches.”
Woosnam, who topped out at 5-feet 4-inches (162 centimeters), went on to become a world number one and win a major championship at the 1991 Masters.
The 59-year-old, who is affectionately known throughout the golf world as ‘Wee Woosie’, was inducted on Tuesday along with Americans Davis Love and Meg Mallon, and Mexican Lorena Ochoa.
Love offered a sobering reminder that golf is just a game by commenting on the current global geo-political situation.
“We live in a country where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are at our core but we don’t forget that just recently golfers in Japan got pulled off of a course because of a North Korea missile test,” the 1997 PGA Championship winner said.
Ochoa, who retired at 28 to start a family, joked that writing her inductee speech was probably harder than having a baby. She recalled her junior days and what motivated her as a child.
“When I was eight, my dad told me if I qualified to represent Mexico in the world championship, he would take me to California. To tell you the truth, I just wanted to go to Disneyland,” she said to laughter.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Jersey City, New Jersey; Editing by John O’Brien