Defending champion Ernie Els has become the fifth past champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard to join the host, Arnold Palmer, in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The World Golf Hall of Fame announced its newest inductees on September 22. Along with Els, those chosen were Doug Ford, the late Jock Hutchison and former President George H.W. Bush. A fifth and final inductee will be announced later. The inductees will be enshrined on May 9, 2011 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida.
Els was elected with 66 percent of the vote on the PGA TOUR ballot. Ford and Hutchison were selected in the Veterans Category. President Bush was selected in the Lifetime Achievement Category.
Palmer was in the inaugural group in 1974, when the World Golf Hall of Fame was originally located in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Champions of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard who have since joined Palmer in the World Golf Hall of Fame are Tom Kite (API champion in 1982, 1989), Payne Stewart (1987), Ben Crenshaw (1993), and Vijay Singh (2007).
In making the announcement, PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said, "Each of the inductees richly deserves this honor and on behalf of the World Golf Foundation Board, I look forward to welcoming them into the Hall of Fame in May.
"Ernie has compiled an extraordinarily successful international career and continues to compete at the highest level. Itâ€™s terrific that Doug Ford and Jock Hutchisonâ€™s careers will be highlighted in this way as both enjoyed great success in their professional careers. And President Bush has been and continues to be a great friend of the game of golf; heâ€™s a terrific addition to the Hall."
Els said, "I was shocked and extremely honored when the call came through from Commissioner Finchem to say that I was to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I would like to thank all those who have helped make this possible, not least my family whose support has never wavered. There are too many others to mention by name, but they know who they are and can be assured of my eternal gratitude. And to those who saw fit to believe I was worthy of a place among those who have been previously honored, I say a big thank you."
Els won the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard in 1998 and again in 2010 among his 18 career victories on the PGA TOUR, including the 1994 and 1997 U.S. Open Championships and the 2002 Open Championship in Britain. Els also has 44 international victories, many of which he won in his native South Africa and others in Europe and Australia. He has played six times for the International team in the Presidents Cup.