The reuniting of all 12 members of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team and their captain, José María Olazábal, on stage at the Players’ Awards dinner was among the many highlights of a wonderful evening of celebration for The European Tour.
Guests from around the world including players, sponsors, promoters, broadcasters and administrators, gathered at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow for the traditional annual ceremony on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship – the European Tour’s flagship event - to applaud the many and varied achievements of the players throughout a tremendous 2012 campaign.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, welcomed the guests from all corners of the globe as the Tour relived so many of the highlights of last year during an evening of glitz and glamour, co-hosted by the Golf Channel’s Steve Sands and Sky Sports’ Sarah Stirk.
The highest honour of the Players’ Player of the Year award went to Rory McIlroy as his peers recognised his phenomenal achievements of winning US PGA Championship, topping both the US PGA Tour Money List and The Race to Dubai and reigning supreme as World Number One. McIlroy received the award from the previous year’s recipient Luke Donald, whose feat of winning the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic was matched by McIlroy.
Ernie Els received rapturous applause as his Open Championship victory was replayed and Ricardo Santos, the first Portuguese golfer to win on home soil, collected the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award from 2011 winner Tom Lewis.
There was a special award for Miguel Angel Jiménez, who will become the first continental golfer to play in 600 European Tour events when he tees up in Thursday, with Tournament Committee Chairman Thomas Björn marking the notable milestone with a presentation to the 49 year old Spaniard.
But it was the reuniting of the European Ryder Cup team on stage that brought a standing ovation from the audience and as each member of the team recounted their own special memories of his historic victory last September, Martin Kaymer, the man who holed the putt to ensure Europe retained the famous golden chalice, presented their captain with a commemorative framed picture of their famous victory at Medinah.