Friday, 31 December 2010

Graeme McDowell’s remarkable year has ended on the highest possible note in the form of recognition in the New year’s Honours List.

The 31 year old from Northern Ireland receives an MBE at the conclusion of an outstanding season in which he became the first European in 40 years to capture the US Open Championship and secured the winning point for Europe in The 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales.

The Award is further recognition of McDowell’s enormous achievements in 2010, which have resulted in a host of end-of-year accolades. He was named the joint winner of The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year title with Germany’s Martin Kaymer and winner of the annual awards from the Association of Golf Writers, the Golf Writers’ Association of America and the Irish Golf Writers.

He was also a candidate for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and, although he did not figure in the top three, compensation came quickly in the form of another key television award when he was named RTE Sportsperson of the Year in Ireland.

"It is a huge honour for me to be included on the New Year Honours List," said McDowell. "For my achievements as a professional golfer to be recognised in this way is truly special. Both myself and my family are very proud of this unique acknowledgement."

McDowell ended 40 years of disappointment at Pebble Beach in June when he became the first European  winner of the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970. He also won The Celtic Manor Wales Open and the Andalucia Valderrama Masters on his way to finishing runner-up in The Race to Dubai behind Kaymer.

However, his singles victory over Hunter Mahan at Celtic Manor was the defining moment of the year for many golf observers as McDowell’s point brought The Ryder Cup back to Europe under the captaincy of Colin Montgomerie.

Sir Bob Charles has been elevated to The Order of New Zealand, the country's highest honour.

The order, instituted in 1987, to recognise outstanding service to the country, is limited to 20 living people, though additional members have been appointed in commemoration of important occasions.

It now has 18 ordinary members, with Sir Bob's appointment. Former Prime Minister Helen Clark was appointed last year.

Sir Bob, knighted in 1999, was the first New Zealander and the first left-hander to win a Major Championship, with his triumph in The Open in 1963. He has won more than 60 international titles and remains competitive at 74 years old.

He supports and mentors young players and donates one percent of his income to New Zealand golf though the Sir Bob Charles Scholarships, awarded annually to promising young golfers.

"I'm very proud, humble and thankful," Sir Bob said of his award. "Proud to be recognised by New Zealand for my achievements and contribution to New Zealand golf; humble to be joining such an illustrious group of New Zealanders; and thankful for the opportunity the sport of golf has given me."

Dr David Marsh, past captain of The R&A, has also been honoured with an MBE for voluntary services to amateur golf. A distinguished amateur golfer himself, who played in the winning 1971 Walker Cup side, Dr Marsh went on to captain the Great Britain and Ireland team in 1973 and 1975 and twice won the English Amateur Championship.


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