Let's go back in time. The year was Nov 5th, 2016 Jaime Villarreal became the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame. A player must
have ten wins that include two majors to be inducted into the Hall. In Villarreal's rookie season, he established himself as a force with 4 wins. This crowned him with the title for the
most wins and money earned in his first season as a rookie. He won his first major, the U.S. Open, in 2015 at Southwyck. He won 4 more times the following year which included a PGA Championship and
Players Championship. At this time, the nickname, "The Greatness," was bestowed on him.
So when I created the Hall of Fame, I questioned myself if the criteria were too low. I assumed it would take a player several years to accumulate 10 wins. Villarreal kicked the doors off in a span of three years. He became the exception to the rule. Well, fast forward to the present, and 11 seasons later, Villarreal sits in the Hall by himself.
There are many players aggressively banging on the door attempting to enter. The British Open at Wildcat could have been the place where two players would have that opportunity to do just that. It was not just two ordinary, run-of-the-mill players. It was the League's elite two players, Jose Sanchez AKA the "King," and Vincent Gilmore, the "Doctor," who has more wins than anyone since 2017. Sanchez and Gilmore have enough regular tournament wins to enter the hall but they need one more Major title to join Villarreal. Now, the stage is set, and the players are in place. Let's get into the action of the 2022 Open Championship.
Sanchez and Gilmore came out guns blazing, with six birdies between them. Sanchez was 2 under par while Gilmore was 1 under par as they made the turn. I assumed this would be similar to the Rumble in the Jungle where "The Greatness" would use his rope-a-dope tactics to wear them down. Nope, this was a center ring, toe-to-toe battle with three great heavyweights throwing haymakers. Villarreal landed a nice jab on 13 with a birdie. Sanchez countered with a cross on 14 with a birdie but a bogey on 15 sent him to the canvas. Gilmore's knock-out punch on 16 was a thing of beauty. A 3-ft birdie putt sent Villareal tumbling back. Vincent gave Villarreal a standing 8 count with a bogey on 17. Vincent and Villarreal were all squared up with -4 after the bell rang on 18. After a sniff of smelling salt under his nose, Sanchez jumped up and finished in third place. So this great bout was settled in a sudden death starting on hole number one.
While Villarreal was in the clubhouse, he made one of his bold and confident predictions. He stated that if it went to a playoff, he would win. Well, it went to a playoff and he won on the first hole. Congratulations, Jamie Villarreal. You are still alone walking in the hall hearing all the echoes of your own voice. Continue to relish in your solitude of greatness, my friend.
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