St. Augustine, Fla. Larry Nelson was either in the jungle or a rice paddy during his two years in the Vietnam War, enough time to learn the difference between a land leech and a water leech. Vijay Singh toiled in the rain forest of Borneo, giving golf lessons for $10 and spending every free minute working on his game.
Both took an unimaginable route to one of golf's greatest honors Monday night when they were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, a celebration of blue-collar success.
"This is one of the biggest achievements in my life," Singh said.
Nelson and Singh were inducted along with former Masters and PGA champion Henry Picard; former Kansas University golfer and Topeka native Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour who won 21 times and two majors; and Mark McCormack, who founded IMG and reshaped sports management with clients ranging from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods.
Along with helping to found the LPGA Tour, Smith has conducted more than 4,000 clinics since 1949 involving more than 250,000 young golfers. She was recognized during the LPGA's 50th anniversary as one of its top 50 players and teachers.