Lee Westwood, only the second English golfer after Sir Nick Faldo to scale the summit of the professional game as World Number One, has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour.
The 37 year old from Worksop, who deposed Tiger Woods at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking on October 31 last year, was presented with a silver Honorary Life Membership card and money clip by George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, during the build up to this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.
Westwood turned professional in 1993 and has been a loyal and committed supporter of The European Tour since his debut season in 1994, when he finished 43rd in the Order of Merit. Now in his 18th year on his home Tour and making his 388th start in Dubai this week, Westwood remains one of Europe’s most consistently brilliant and popular performers wherever he tees up.
He has won 20 times on The European Tour, the last victory being his superb success in the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, which secured The 2009 Race to Dubai title to add to his Order of Merit win in 2000. As well as those two triumphs in the season-long competitions, Westwood has been runner-up once and third on four occasions.
He is third in the all-time Career Money List behind Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie with tournament winnings of €23,911,692, and is only the 13th player to reach the pinnacle of World Number One in the 25 years of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Since making his Ryder Cup debut at Valderrama in 1997, Westwood has become a talisman for Europe in the biennial contest against the United States, winning 19 points during the seven matches in which he has played.
Westwood said: “I have always loved The European Tour, from the moment I first teed up in Madeira to this day, standing here in Dubai receiving this award. I have had a few ups and downs in that time but I have always loved The Tour and the people surrounding it. It has played a huge part in my life and I will cherish this honour for the rest of my life.”
O’Grady commented: “It is a great privilege to honour Lee in this very special way with the highest award we as a Tour can give him. He is a devoted family man but also devoted to the Tour on which he cut his teeth in professional golf. He has shown unswerving loyalty to The European Tour for the best part of 20 years and is fully deserving of being recognised with Honorary Life Membership.
“For the past 15 weeks Lee has sat on top of the world, in a golfing sense, and the fact that only 12 other players have claimed the position of Number One over a 25 year period speaks volumes for the enormity of his achievement. He has done this through the quality of his golf and sheer force of personality and is undoubtedly one of our greatest champions.”