George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, welcomed guests from all around the world to the Players’ Awards Dinner at the Sofitel Heathrow last night to celebrate “the greatest year in the history of The European Tour”.
Martin Kaymer (US PGA Champion), Graeme McDowell (US Open Champion), Louis Oosthuizen (Open Champion), and Charl Schwartzel (Masters Champion) took centre stage to rapturous applause to signal the historic achievement of all four Major titles being held at the same time by European Tour Members.
There was also celebration for the victorious 2010 European Ryder Cup team as all 12 members of the team and Captain Colin Montgomerie took part in a Q&A with Golf Channel presenter Steve Sands.
O’Grady said: “We welcome everyone to celebrate the greatest year in the history of The European Tour. On behalf of the Tour and the Board of Directors we thank every person in this room for the part they have played in that success. Everyone can feel an immense amount of pride. You have all contributed to the spectacular success our players have enjoyed.”
The evening, co-hosted by Sky Sports’ David Livingstone and Di Dougherty and The Golf’s Channel’s Sands, was all about celebrating the achievements of the players and began with Retief Goosen and Oosthuizen presenting Schwartzel, proudly wearing his Green Jacket, with Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour in recognition of his Masters triumph.
McDowell collected his European Tour Shot of the Year trophy from 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain Montgomerie for his memorable putt on the 16th green at Celtic Manor and the players in return presented Montgomerie with their own token of thanks for his leadership.
Kaymer and McDowell returned to the stage to present Matteo Manassero with the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award before World Number One, Lee Westwood, presented the big award of the night, the Players’ Player of the Year Award to Martin Kaymer. The 2010 winner of The Race to Dubai received a solid silver salver, which is given annually to the outstanding player as selected by the Tour Membership.
O’Grady had special thanks for the support from Richard Caring, Chairman of Wentworth Club, and all those involved with the Ole Seve! Day which raised over £600,000 for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation supporting Cancer Research UK, and for all those who support charities around the world, particularly Cecil Whelan of the Links Golfing Society in Ireland.
There were congratulations to all The 2018 Ryder Cup bid nations and to France for winning the bid with good luck for Scotland first for 2014. The support of the Tour’s partners at The R&A, USGA, PGA and PGA’s of Europe was recognised with their combined efforts to grow the game around the world with golf’s inclusion in the Olympics.
O’Grady also gave special thanks to dedication, vision and drive of The Golf Channel in America, to the BBC for pushing the game forward and to Sky Sports, the modern day partner for the Tour.
The celebrations were, of course, tinged with sadness following the death of Seve Ballesteros on May 7, and it was left to José Maria Olazábal to give a heartfelt tribute to his great friend before an emotional video celebrating the life of one of the true legends of the game concluded a truly memorable evening.