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EUROPEAN TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT


December 15, 2011


Peter Alliss

Sandy Lyle

George O'Grady

Jose Maria Olazabal

Jack Peter


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Ladies and gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to welcome you all here today to the Lancaster Hotel in London to what is a very special day for all of us at the European Tour and indeed for all our friends from the World Golf Hall of Fame in the United States.
Before we begin this afternoon's proceedings, I'd like to introduce our distinguished top table to you.  On the far right we are delighted to welcome from the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, the chief operating officer, Mr.Jack Peter.  Jack has been a guest of ours many times over the years, and it's always a pleasure to have him back with us over this side of the pond.  Jack, you're most welcome.
Next to Jack is one of the most celebrated golfers of our time, Mr. Sandy Lyle.  Sandy's career, of course, is defined by his dramatic victory in the Open Championship at Royal St.George's in 1985 and his memorable triumph in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National three years later.  In total Sandy won 29 tournaments worldwide, up to 1992, before adding No.30 earlier this year with his first Senior Tour victory in China.  Sandy, it's great to have you with us here today.
Next to Sandy is the chief executive of the European Tour, Mr.George O'Grady.  As well as having his hand firmly on the tiller of European golf, George is also heavily involved in many other aspects of golf administration across the globe, including currently being chairman of the World Golf Federation.  George, as always, your attendance and support is much appreciated.
Next to George is a man for whom most golf fans is quite simply the voice of the game itself, Mr.Peter Alliss.  Peter's career behind the microphone began with the BBC some 50 years ago in 1961, when he commentated on Arnold Palmer's Open victory at Royal Birkdale, and he's been informing and entertaining television audiences ever since.  Prior to that, of course, Peter was a highly successful professional golfer in his own right, winning 23 tournaments around the world, as well as the coveted Vardon Trophy twice.  It's a pleasure to have you here with us today.
And last but by no means least, the man nearest to me here, European Ryder Cup captain for 2012, José María Olazábal.  José María has won 30 titles around the world in a glittering career, which included, of course, the collection of two green jackets at Augusta National in '94 and 1999.  Another special moment came in 2009 when he became only the second Spanish golfer behind his great friend Seve Ballesteros to be elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.  José María, thank you for joining us this afternoon.
Now without further ado I'd like to ask George O'Grady to begin today's official proceedings with a few words.  Thank you, George.
GEORGE O'GRADY:¬† Thank you, Scott, and welcome, ladies and gentlemen, today for our traditional end‑of‑season Race to Dubai lunch, where we reflect on the happenings of the season.¬† Enough of that, because you have a wonderful top table here of guests, and I think the chance to have this particular announcement today at our media lunch is wonderful for us to honour two very special men.¬† I think to understand what the World Golf Hall of Fame is and means I think I'll ask Jack Peter to have a few words.¬† Jack?
JACK PETER:  Thank you, George.  And thanks to you and your team for allowing me the opportunity to be with you today at this wonderful event.  Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for this incredible turnout.  I've determined that I think that we need to have formal lunches and an open bar at all of our press announcements.  It's truly a great turnout.  We've got our finger on the pulse of that.
It's indeed a pleasure to be back in London.  It's clearly one of my most favourite cities in the world.  Last time I was over in this part of the world I had the opportunity to announce the induction of José María Olazábal and Christy O'Connor, Sr.  José María, it's great to see you again.  Your induction speech, much like great classical music, is still being played over and over, and for those of you that saw it, it was truly one of the greatest and most heartfelt speeches I've had the privilege to witness.
José, you've been a great ambassador for the Hall of Fame, and I wish you the very best on your upcoming Ryder Cup matches in Chicago, my hometown, truly my most favourite city.  We look forward to seeing you there.
But I'm here today to make the final announcement for the class of 2012.  As many of you know, Phil Mickelson was elected on the PGA Tour ballot, Hollis Stacy of the LPGA was selected in the veterans category, and just yesterday we announced one of your own, Dan Jenkins was selected in the lifetime achievement category because we wanted to make sure we added some humor to this year's induction proceedings.
So I'm not going to stand here and recite the career accomplishments of these two fine gentlemen who are on the dais with me today.  All of you do that much better than I would anyway.  What I am going to do is tell you a little bit about the mission of the World Golf Hall of Fame, which is to preserve the history of the game and the legacies of those who have made it great, and these two gentlemen have certainly made it great.
We view our job much as a storyteller.  It's our job to make sure the stories of these two fine individuals are not only told but told in such a way that they inspire and that they educate, and hopefully convey the passion that each has for this great game.
Sandy and Peter, you have our commitment that we will tell your story and preserve your legacy for generations to come.  It truly is our hope that your children, your grandchildren and your grandchildren's children will look at the Hall of Fame with pride, knowing that their dad, their granddad, their uncle or even their great granddad, has been recognised and enshrined for a lifelong passion and contribution to the great game of golf, and we're going to do that not only in the museum but we're going to do it on the web, on a tablet, iPhone, Twitter, Facebook, and when we have the TV wristwatch figured out, we'll tell it there, too.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour and privilege to announce today that Sandy Lyle elected on the international ballot and Peter Alliss has been selected in the lifetime achievement category for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.  Sandy and Peter, on behalf of the members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, our volunteers, staff and our board of directors, congratulations on joining our growing family of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
GEORGE O'GRADY:  I think we might ask your Ryder Cup captain who was inducted last May just to tell us in his own words what it meant to him.
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL:  Thank you, George.  First of all, congratulations to Sandy and Peter.  You really deserve that honour.  In my case, it was a great honour.  When I went there, I was never there before, and when I went there, I saw the history that is in there, the legacy that the players left behind.  To be part of that selected group, and in my case to be next to Seve, my great friend, it was very special.  It was very emotional.
Since I was told that I was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I had time to reflect on my career and my life as a golf player.¬† There were a lot of emotions coming alive, and that's the beauty of it.¬† And on top of that, the way it's done, Jack, is just amazing.¬† You really take great pride in what you do over there.¬† It's fantastic to see the respect that you show for the game of golf and for every member in that Hall of Fame.¬† It's just a great experience, one that I will always cherish, and I think it's going to be pretty much the same way for Peter and Sandy, because they are very‑‑ I think very sentimental and emotional guys.¬† And I think it's going to be a wonderful night for you two.¬† Congratulations.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  José María, thank you very much.  Before we move into questions and answers, I think we should hear from the two gentlemen honoured today.  Sandy, if we could start with you.  You must be delighted to have received this honour.
SANDY LYLE:  Yes, I was obviously very, very excited.  Jack showed me a whole folder here of dos and don'ts, so I've got a bit of midnight reading for the next few days, so I'd better make sure I behave myself.  If you need any silverware cleaning, I do live up the road only 20 miles away, so I can make myself useful for there.
I've never been there to the Hall of Fame myself, but I've looked on the internet and seen the whole list of names from way back in the 1930s or something.  To be part of that list of names of players and achievements, as Ollie said, it's quite a humble thing to be involved.  I'm still waiting for some grandchildren, but I'm sure I'll let them know when the time comes.
But I'm very honoured and very pleased and flattered, and thank you for the votes that have been around, and I'm sure I'll try and do my best to keep the Hall of Fame going for many years to come.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Thank you, Sandy.  And Peter, I'm sure you share Sandy's joy at today's announcement.
PETER ALLISS:¬† Well, surprise would be more to the point.¬† I've got to choose my words very carefully because to some I could appear to be na√Įve or flippant or arrogant, even more arrogant than usual. ¬†All these awards have come to me relatively late in life, although I did a few decent things when I was in my 30s and 40s to get awarded this or awarded that, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever be, for example, a member of the R&A, honorary member of the R&A, honorary member of so many wonderful golf clubs in the British Isles and in the United States.¬† I certainly never thought I would be elected to the Hall of Fame.
I mean, all I've ever done is waffle on about the game of golf, and I was fortunate enough to have a father who was one of the best professionals of his time, and I followed in his footsteps.¬† There was never any thought about doing anything else, not that I was dim at school.¬† In fact, I was quite bright at school.¬† But coming back from the Boys' Championship in 1946, having been beaten in the semifinal, I was playing a lad called Donald Duneston, who was on reflection looked a little bit like a young Wayne Rooney.¬† He was not a pretty boy at all.¬† On the other hand, I was six foot tall and beautiful, and he was just going to be swept aside, cannon fodder.¬† And I opened up at Brunsfield and I had a 3 at the first and 1‑up and won the second, as well.¬† But he beat me 3 & 2, so that brought us down with a bang.
And going back on the train, my father, who'd been in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the first world war, so he spent three and a half years with the Scots, and he was a Yorkshireman‑‑ you know a Yorkshireman is a Scotsman with all the charity sucked out of him.¬† He leant across the carriage and said I don't think there's any need for you or purpose in further education.¬† They didn't have an expression like "further education" then, but if you were bright enough, you went on somewhere.¬† But he said, you can become my unpaid assistant, which I thought was very generous of him, and he said also, you can continue to live at home, and we won't charge you too much rent.
So that's how it began for me, in a very modest, modest way with a famous father, and many times I was asked, has this been an imposition having a famous father.  And I suppose at times if you were in that sort of mood, yes.  But then I thought of all the doors that somehow, if they weren't opened they certainly became ajar, and I went through, and life has just opened up in so many ways.
I've had six or seven glorious bites of the cherry, and I've enjoyed every one of them, one not more than 'tother, and it's been a wonderful journey, and I've come to the end of my time, I think, to be awarded, moved into the Hall of Fame.  I mean, they must have been drunk when they were selecting.
But I shall wear the badge of honour with great pride, and I hope I do them justice, as I've always tried to do with the game of golf.¬† It's a funny old fuddy‑duddy game, but I love it, and I quite understand if people don't, but it's something very, very special, and I'm very honoured to be a part of it, Jack, and I look forward to bringing my wife and seven children with me.¬† A Ritz‑Carlton is quite good enough, and we'll only be there for a week or ten days.
Thank you very much indeed.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  It's always a very hard act to try and follow Peter Alliss, but I'm now going to open the floor to some questions.

Q.  George, I just wondered, from your perspective, how much impact do you believe the likes of Sandy and Peter have had in shaping the European Tour into its current guise?
GEORGE O'GRADY:¬† I think the release really says it all.¬† I mean, Sandy has been one of the strongest supporters of the European Tour, played around the world.¬† I think his 7‑iron at the Masters‑‑ I think actually before that The Open Championship at Royal St. George's kicked it off, kicked off the run.¬† Remember what Nick Faldo said after he won, I'm going to do it.¬† So he drove, he followed Seve into making people feel they could do it.¬† Seve once said there's only two guys he would go out to watch play golf; one was Sandy Lyle and the other one came from Ireland.¬† And you can work out who that was.
Now, Peter Alliss, whatever his own achievements as a player was, the phrase that Scott said about Mr.Golf, he's brought the game to the British public and in America to the American public by his commentary, by his own individual commentary.  It's wonderful that, one, both are being inducted, not inducted today but announced today, and here to be given the news in London at our media lunch, and in my one year as chairman of the World Golf Foundation, on this watch, I think it's great news for anybody connected with European golf.

Q.  José, in terms of the current situation of the European Tour, how strong do you feel the Tour is right now, not least given to your close position and allegiance with most of the players?
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL:¬† Well, I think we're leaving another golden age.¬† We leave that with the Big Five with Sandy and Bernhard and Woosie and Nick and Seve.¬† These last couple of years, they have been amazing.¬† Lee, Darren, Martin Kaymer, G‑Mac, Rory, the group of young guns that are playing incredible golf is just amazing, and hopefully they will keep on doing that next September.

Q.  Sandy, you won earlier this year in China.  Do you intend to do the same sort of schedule next year, and how much longer do you intend on playing competitively?
SANDY LYLE:¬† Well, I'm still going to play competitive golf as far as the Seniors Tour, and I'm maybe going to play a bit more in America next year, and we'll go from there.¬† Obviously I'm going to play the Masters and The Open Championship, which I always look forward to.¬† I don't think I'm going to be very competitive in the Masters tournament.¬† There's too many young guns out there now.¬† But I might just give them a run for their money for a little while.¬† But there will be some more golf involved, and obviously in July in Europe I'll be buzzing around up and down from north to south playing in events and see if I can maybe win more than just one tournament now.¬† I've only got one to my name as far as the seniors' events, so I've been a bit sluggish.¬† But you see that Tom Watson almost won The Open two years ago, and that's what the standards are on the Seniors Tour.¬† They're a mean bunch of guys out there.¬† They're fun, but they're hard competitors, and you have to be‑‑ your game pretty sharp to compete to win out there.

Q.  Peter, you had a very excellent career as a golfer, played eloquently and won 23 events.  Most people get into the Hall of Fame because of what they've achieved on the golf course, but you've done that plus what you've done since 1961, talking about the game just as eloquently as you played it.  You must feel very satisfied.  There was disappointment of never being a Ryder Cup captain, but now you're in the Hall of Fame.
PETER ALLISS:¬† Well, it's a surprise.¬† I never thought an honour like this would come my way because in my opinion there was no reason for it.¬† All I've done is do my job.¬† I went into the world of golf‑‑ everyone who goes into the world of golf run by George says, I played in the Walker Cup, and I want to become the best player in the world.¬† Nobody when I started off ever had any thought of being the best player in the world.¬† Maybe Henry Cotton did because he married someone who had about 49 million quid, so he was able to indulge his fantasies, but he was still a club professional.¬† He was at Temple and he was at MidSurrey, so it was just one of those sort of‑‑ I look back, and it's just an extraordinary happening.
I went into the game as my father's assistant, and I became professional with my brother at the Parkstone Golf Club, then got divorced sadly, or luckily, depending on your point of view, and moved up to Yorkshire to Moor Allerton, and suddenly I was offered the opportunity by a fellow called Ray Lakeson to do some commentary.¬† In 1960 he wrote to me and said we're at the Open Championship next year at Royal Birkdale, would you like to come along, and here's my telephone number.¬† And I rang him up and said, well, it's very kind of you to suggest this, but I'm hoping to be playing.¬† I'm only 30 years old.¬† He said, oh, no, it doesn't matter, you can come up‑‑ if you play in the morning, come up in the afternoon, etcetera, etcetera.
Remember then, it was Wednesday 18 holes, Thursday 18 holes, and two rounds on Friday, and between 40 and 52 I think used to qualify for the final 36 holes.¬† You imagine in Jos√©'s day trying to get 50‑odd players around twice in a day on the Friday so you can get home to look after the members on the weekend.¬† That was my life.¬† That was all it was, tournaments and being able to be in Ryder Cups and World Cups, Canada Cups as they were, going around the world.¬† I had ten goes at that and luckily never played locally.¬† I didn't play at Wentworth, Dublin, Madrid, Paris, Rome; I was out there in Japan and Australia, and it was a glorious time.
It's just something I never, ever, ever expected, and I just hope I do them justice.  I have enjoyed the game of golf so much.  It's been perhaps my world but not my life.  I enjoy too many silly conversations and the odd glass of pinogrigio and sort of sitting around and waffling about it.
I think there's a lot of nonsense about it today by my fellow commentators.  They make it sound as if Luke Donald gets to the turn in 36, he knew he had to come home in 31, and he did it by God.  No, he didn't; he set off on the 10th and got a 3, then he holed it at the next and got a 2.  It's like saying to a cricketer playing at Lawsome, I think I'll make 150, and I think I'll play in the Cup final.  Well, nobody has ever scored five goals in the Cup final.  I'll do that tomorrow.
Sport isn't like that.  You can be brilliant.  I watch Federer.  I'm a great friend of Federer and a fan of his, and he hits one backhanded like that, not knowing where the hell it's going, and it finishes in like that, and he wins the point.  I know practices hard and he's a brilliant player, but there has to be a modicum of good fortune in it.
And that's the same with golf.  José has hit a thousand putts.  They're in there and they just wiggle round the edge, and then another time it's going far too hard, boom, in, thank you very much, wonderful play.  That's the way sport is.
And I love it when they say control the spin.  Obviously taking two clubs too many, pitches on the back of the green, goes in, ooh, like that, oh, that's wonderful control of the spin.  It's absolute bollocks.

Q.  Jack, can you just tell us how long the Hall of Fame has now been going, and with Peter and Sandy coming in now, what does that take the total number of inductees, men and women, that you've, in fact, got now?
JACK PETER:  Sure.  Well, the Hall of Fame has its origins going back to 1974 in Pinehurst, and it existed in that location through the late '80s until it fell, I'm sorry to report, on some hard times.  It was resuscitated and revived in the late '90s and it opened in its current location in May of 1998.  The five members of the class of 2012 will bring the total membership to 141 once the induction concludes in May, and of that, with Peter and Sandy's addition, there are 36 Europeans that are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame at this time.

Q.  And it's nice a hero of mine, Dan Jenkins, is going to come in.  How many journalists and TV, if I can call you a TV commentator, Peter, how many media people have you got out of that total?
JACK PETER:¬† Well, without getting into some of the in‑chamber debates, I'll let that question go for George, but we've brought in certain members of the media, and Dan will be the fourth, the fourth member of the media brought in.¬† As it relates to broadcasters, last year we inducted Frank Chirkinian, which he was really the first pure television person that we brought into the Hall of Fame, so I would argue that Peter is the second.

Q.  Apart from the number of titles that they've won and the expertise that they've showed, what else do you look for?  What qualities do you look for in the people that you want in the Hall of Fame?
JACK PETER:¬† Well, let me answer that by quick giving a brief description of the different avenues into the Hall of Fame.¬† There are five ways a person becomes part of the Hall of Fame.¬† Two of those are an elected ballot.¬† There's a PGA Tour ballot and there's an international ballot.¬† Each of those ballots have a voting body attached to it.¬† The way you qualify for those ballots is a combination of tournament victories, major championships, length of time on Tour, and you have to be a minimum age of 40.¬† The LPGA has a points‑based system where they assign points to their tournaments, a point to their tournaments and two points to their majors, and then there are the two discretionary categories, the veterans category, which has been designed to really recognise players whose careers may not have gotten the notoriety of yesteryear, and then the lifetime achievement really is for individuals whose contributions to the game primarily occurred outside the ropes.
So to answer the question about what people look for, I think it's a complete body of work.  I think obviously a playing career like Sandy has had, a playing career of Peter that Renton had described, eloquent in its own right.  I think the voting body and the board of directors debates the entire body of work, and I think it's passion for the game and all the intrinsic things that come with it.

Q.  I was going to say, is love of the game a big part of it?
JACK PETER:  Sure, but I would also tell you that you don't get to the level of debate where I sit without having a deep passion for the game, deep love of the game.  The debates are fun because at the end of the day, you can make an argument for a lot of people to be in the Hall of Fame, and we have a phrase for that at the Hall of Fame:  It's not no, it's not yet.  That's how I would answer that.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Gentlemen, many thanks for your attendance today.  Peter, Sandy, many congratulations on the honour.  I hope you enjoy the lunch and enjoy the rest of your day.  Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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