GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Eighteen-times major champion Jack Nicklaus has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour and recognized for transforming the Ryder Cup.
The ‘Golden Bear’ was presented with a silver membership card by George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour ahead of the final day of the Ryder Cup.
“On behalf of every past and present member of The European Tour, led by John Jacobs, our first Director General, to Neil Coles and all our current Board of Directors, we would be honored if you accept Honorary Life Membership,” said O’Grady.
Nicklaus designed this week’s PGA Centenary host course at Gleneagles that was originally named the Monarch’s when opened in 1993 but was renamed in January 2001 in honor of the British PGA Centenary.
The 74-year old Nicklaus was invited back to Scotland where in 2005 he had been farewelled after contesting his final British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
“It’s an awfully nice honor,” Nicklaus said.
“I have supported The European Tour and fellows who have represented The European Tour all over the world, and to be part of that and honored as a member of that organization is very, very nice.”
Nicklaus was also presented with a plaque to recognize his role in transforming the competition when he floated the idea of changing the old Britain and Ireland team to a European one.
That led to the introduction of Europe in 1979 and proved the catalyst for The Ryder Cup’s current standing in the game.
“Both organizations would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the vision of one man who, in 1977, recommended to the President of the PGA of America and our President of the British PGA to consider widening the British and Ireland team to all of Europe,” O’Grady added.
“You have seen what the match has become now, with nine nationalities represented this week. To recognize this on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus couldn’t be a more fitting occasion.”
Ted Bishop, President of the PGA of America, said: “On behalf of the PGA of America and our colleagues from Ryder Cup Europe, we are honored to be part of this recognition of Jack Nicklaus – the game’s all-time Major champion – who forever will be linked to the success of The Ryder Cup.
“Jack’s efforts to expand The Ryder Cup to involve Europe not only elevated the competition, but ensured its future. In the process, his efforts also resulted in The Ryder Cup being able to benefit multiple charitable organizations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.”
Editing by Ed Osmond