ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - David Graham, the only Australian golfer to win two different major championships, wiped tears from his eyes as he prepared for an emotional induction to the World Golf Hall of Fame later on Monday.
Graham, who had a cardioverter defibrillator attached to his heart less than two years ago that he described as “a life-saving device”, will be inducted at a ceremony ahead of this week’s British Open.
The 69-year-old is a member of the ‘Class of 2015’ that also includes double major winner Mark O‘Meara of the U.S., Britain’s finest female golfer Laura Davies and the late golf course designer A.W. Tillinghast.
“I‘m obviously excited and delighted to get into the Hall of Fame... I guess it’s even more special in the fact it’s here at St Andrews,” Graham told a news conference as he dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief.
“I went through a period where I didn’t think it was going to come. It’s something you hope happens in your career.”
Graham, who won the 1981 U.S. Open and the 1979 U.S. PGA Championship, was a no-nonsense, tough as teak golfer in his heyday but has clearly mellowed with age.
“I never used to be very emotional but I now take some pretty horrific medication for my condition and I think based on that, with a lot of other things associated with it, I can’t stop now,” he said.
“I used to make putts and I never cried when I putted. I think when you get older you get more emotional.”
Graham was a trailblazer in the 1970s, an Australian taking a gamble on the U.S. PGA Tour to try to make a living.
“I had people write about me in those days saying that I was a traitor, I left my country, I wasn’t a good Australian... people don’t even discuss that sort of thing any more,” he said.
”When I won the U.S. PGA it was a much bigger life-changer than the U.S. Open because in those days it got you a 10-year tour exemption.
“When we played in tournaments, a putt was worth $500 or $1,000, it wasn’t millions. I wouldn’t mind finishing second today and getting $800,000,” said Graham.
“I may be upset for a few days (at not winning) but my bank manager would think that’s a good deal.”
Editing by Ken Ferris