Ted Ray deserves his spot in golf's Hall of Fame

American golfer Francis B. Ouimet, center, shakes hands with Harry Vardon, left, and Ted Ray, both of Britain, at the U.S. Open Golf Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., in 1913. Ouimet defeated the pair to become the new champion.

American golfer Francis B. Ouimet, center, shakes hands with Harry Vardon, left, and Ted Ray, both of Britain, at the U.S. Open Golf Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., in 1913. Ouimet defeated the pair to become the new champion.

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BROOKLINE, Mass. – Golf fans may best know Ted Ray for his only visit to The Country Club in the 1913 U.S. Open. His eventual third-place finish was part of U.S. Open lore as Francis Ouimet defeated Ray and Harry Vardon in an 18-hole playoff to win America's national championship.

Ray would go on to have a stellar major career, with victories in the 1912 Open Championship at Muirfield and 1920 U.S. Open at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, foremost among his 14 top 10s.

However, inexplicably, Ray is not in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

If major-championship success is the measure, Ray, a Briton who died in 1943, surely should have a spot in the hall.

Starting major competition in the 1899 Open Championship, Ray finished out of the top 20 just once from 1899 to 1921 and missed the cut in the oldest major only twice, in 1931 and 1937, when he was 54 and 60, respectively.

Because of travel and cost, Ray made only three trips to the U.S. for the Open: 1913, 1920 and 1927 (a T-27 at Oakmont Country Club).

When Ray won the U.S. Open in 1920, the runners-up included hall-of-famers Leo Diegel, Jock Hutchison and Harry Vardon, with Bobby Jones four shots back.

The next day, Vardon, a fellow citizen of the Isle of Jersey, wrote a story about Ray’s victory that appeared in The Milwaukee Journal on Aug. 14.

“A man who has the reputation of brilliance rather than steadiness won the victory on steadiness,” Vardon said.

Ray was a bigger man and could drive the ball longer than most, but questionable putting often held him back, though he obviously rolled the ball well enough to win two major championships.

Vardon went on to quote Ray after his victory in the U.S. Open.

“I have never seen a finer field of golfers in any tournament, and it took more than ability to make the strokes to win it.”

Because of World War I, Ray would lose five chances in his prime to play the Open Championship. When the championship resumed, in 1920 at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, he would finish third.

Ray would go on to captain the first and unofficial Ryder Cup team for Great Britain at Wentworth in 1926 and the first official Ryder Cup in 1927 at Worchester, Mass.

The Hall of Fame is littered with players who have never won a major championship, including Peter Alliss, who was inducted last year, and Isao Aoki, inducted in 2004.

Why Ray is not part of the elite club is difficult to explain. Hopefully, the third player in that monumental playoff from 1913 at The Country Club will join Vardon and Ouimet in the hall.

Nothing else makes sense.

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