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Semple Thompson goes into golf hall

| Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Sewickley native Carole Semple Thompson, an amateur who won seven USGA championship and took part in 14 Curtis Cup matches, was among six people inducted Monday night into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

She, along with Herbert Warren Wind, the writer who famously described a three-hole stretch at Augusta National as "Amen Corner," and Pete Dye, who designed more than 120 courses, were selected through the Lifetime Achievement category.

Semple Thompson won her first tournament by beating her mother in the Western Pennsylvania Women's Championship. She went on to compete in more than 100 USGA championships, winning seven of them. She played on 12 Curtis Cup teams and was the U.S. captain for two more. She also served on the USGA executive committee.

Semple Thompson was the sixth female amateur to be inducted.

Others inducted yesterday included Craig Wood, who was the only player elected through the PGA Tour ballot. Wood, the first player to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year and the first to lose all four majors in extra holes, received the minimum 65 percent of the vote.

Three-time major champion Denny Shute and Bob Charles, the first left-hander to win a major, got in through the Veteran's category.

The 2008 class brought membership in the Hall of Fame to 126.

Dye dismissed his career as digging up other people's property, but he shaped it into courses that held major championships, Ryder Cups and PGA Tour events. He became the fourth Hall of Famer whose primary occupation was a golf course architect.

He started with a nine-hole course near Indianapolis and turned that into a design business that produced more than 120 courses that have playedhost to major championships, Ryder Cups and PGA Tour stops -- Kiawah Island, Whistling Straits and Oak Tree among them.

"He has been a designer who has really tested us," said Greg Norman, who introduced Dye. "Pete has the ability to make you remember every shot you played."

His courses often were described as "Dye-abolical" for the severe punishment of missed shots -- none more famous than the island green on the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

His highest praise?

"Still coming," he said. "Hasn't gotten there yet."

And his worst criticism• The list is too long, which might be a compliment in itself.

"I've got a million of them," Dye said. "I'm the only person in the world to build a golf course and have all the PGA professionals condemn the golf course."

That would be TPC Sawgrass, which Dye built from a swamp in Northeast Florida. It has staged The Players Championship since 1982, and with an island green and television coverage, it has become one of the most well-known courses in the world.

Dye didn't start work until 1960 -- long after the careers of Wood and Shute.

In some respects, Wood was the Greg Norman of his era, with a career remembered as much for his two majors as some of his heartbreaking defeats. Wood, who died in 1968, won 21 times on the PGA Tour, including consecutive majors in '41, when he captured the Masters and U.S. Open.

But he also was the first player to lose all four majors in extra holes -- none more memorable than in 1935 at Augusta National. He was the leader in the clubhouse until Gene Sarazen holed out from the 15th fairway for double eagle, then beat Wood the next day in a playoff. Two years earlier, he lost a playoff in the British Open at St. Andrews to Shute.

It was the first of three majors for Shute, who was quiet and shy, but described by Byron Nelson as "a lot better than people realize." Shute won the PGA Championship in consecutive years (1936-37) -- a feat that stood for 63 years until Tiger Woods matched him in 2000.

Shute, who died in 1974, won 16 times on the PGA Tour and played on three Ryder Cup teams.

Charles is the first player from New Zealand in the Hall of Fame but is better known as the first lefty to win on the PGA Tour at the 1963 Houston Open, and more famously, win the first major at the British Open that summer.

He later won 23 times on the Champions Tour, and the 72-year-old broke his age in 11 of 12 rounds this year.

"It's certainly a very proud moment for me," Charles said. "I've had 50 years of traveling around the world playing competitive golf. I've won a few awards in my career, and this is something special."

Wind was educated at Yale and earned a master's degree in literature from Cambridge. Jerry Tarde, chairman of the Golf Digest Companies, introduced him as "the most important golf writer of the 20th century."

Wind, who died in 2005, began working for The New Yorker in the 1940s and was drawn to golf. He wrote "The Story of American in Golf" that was published in 1948 and remains one of the most definitive accounts of professional and amateur golf.

He also wrote with Ben Hogan a book titled "The Modern Fundamentals of Golf," which remains the benchmark for instructional books.

Wind joined Sports Illustrated in 1954, where he spent seven years. He was covering the Masters in 1958 when he came up with the phrase "Amen Corner" to describe the 11th, 12th and 13th holes.

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