Three major champions and one of the game’s top amateurs will be the latest additions enshrined in Memorial Park at the 2017 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.
The Captains Club announced June 5 during the final round of the Memorial Tournament that two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman leads a class of four players as Tournament Honorees next year. Norman, 61, is the fourth past Memorial winner to become a Memorial Honoree. He follows Tournament Founder and Host Jack Nicklaus in 2000, Tom Watson in 2012 and Raymond Floyd in 2013.
Also to be honored in 2017 will be former Open champion Tony Lema, former U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi and two-time U.S. Amateur champion Harvie Ward.
Norman amassed 91 professional victories around the world, including the Memorial in 1990 and 1995. So dominant was the Australian native that he reigned atop the Official World Golf Rankings for 331 consecutive weeks. Nicknamed “The Great White Shark” for his aggressive style of play, Norman grew up playing rugby and Australian Rules football until switching to golf at age 15. Within a few years he was a scratch player with his first golf instruction coming from Jack Nicklaus’ best-selling book, “Golf My Way.”
Norman began competing on the PGA TOUR in 1983 and won 20 times. He led the TOUR in earnings and scoring average three times each, and he became the first player in PGA TOUR history to surpass $10 million in career earnings. In 1986, Norman assembled one of the great seasons in golf history. He won 10 times worldwide and led both the PGA TOUR and the Australasian Tour money lists. Most significantly, he held the 54-hole lead in each of the four major championships, and he broke through for his first major title that year by winning the Open Championship at Turnberry, in Scotland. He captured a second Claret Jug in 1993 at Royal St. George’s thanks to a sterling final-round 64.
He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 with a higher percentage of votes (82%) than any other inductee in history.
Tony Lema joined the PGA TOUR in 1957, and after a slow start he became one of the game’s most popular players and a consistent winner. A native of Oakland, Calif., Lema won 22 professional titles, including 12 times on the PGA TOUR in a four-year span beginning in 1962. From 1963 to 1966, Lema didn’t miss a cut in 16 major championships, and he finished in the top-10 eight times, including a runner-up finish to Jack Nicklaus by one stroke at the 1963 Masters. At the 1964 Open Championship, Lema brilliantly navigated the Old Course at St. Andrews to beat Nicklaus by five strokes and win his only major title.
In 1966, at the age of 32, Lema died in an airplane crash in Illinois after leaving the 1966 PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
A native of San Francisco, Ken Venturi enjoyed two successful career paths in golf. He was one of the game’s top amateurs who in 1956 nearly became the first amateur to win the Masters, falling one stroke shy to Jack Burke, Jr. He turned professional later that year and was a regular winner on the PGA TOUR starting in 1957, finishing with 14 victories, including his memorable win in the 1964 U.S. Open while battling dehydration.
He was forced to retire in 1967 because of carpal tunnel in both wrists, but he went on to serve 35 years as lead golf analyst for CBS Sports, the longest such stint in sports broadcasting history. He died in 2013 at age 82, just 12 days after being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Edward Harvie Ward was best known for his dominance as an amateur golfer and won both the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur before becoming a top teacher. The North Carolina native first came on the scene in 1949 by winning the NCAA Division I individual title while attending the University of North Carolina, where he earned a degree in economics. Three years later, Ward captured the British Amateur, and he finished runner-up in 1953 in his title defense. Known for a razor-sharp short game, Ward would add the 1954 Canadian Amateur to his resume and then U.S. Amateur titles in 1955 and ’56. He is one of two men to win British, U.S. and Canadian Amateur trophies.
A teammate of Nicklaus on the 1959 U.S. Walker Cup team, Ward went a perfect 6-0 in three Walker Cup appearances. In 1974, Ward turned professional and became a world-renowned golf instructor. His most famous pupil was three-time major winner Payne Stewart. Ward died of liver cancer in 2004 at age 78.