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EUROPEAN TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 18, 2012
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to welcome you all here today to the Lancaster Hotel in London for what is a special day, not only for us here at The European Tour, but also for our friends in the World Golf Hall of Fame in the United States.
Before we begin this afternoon's proceedings, I would like to introduce our top table to you. Starting with the man who has travelled the furthest to be with us and who scheduled this afternoon's announcement, Jack Peter is the chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida, and has been a guest of our many times over the years, both here and in London and at our headquarters in Wentworth. Jack, it's always a pleasure to have you back with us over this side of the pond and you're most welcome.
On Jack's left is Chief Executive of The European Tour, George O'Grady, nearing the end of his eighth year as the vanguard of the Tour. George has over seen some of the most successful and memorable seasons in European golfing history. As well, he has been heavily involved in numerous aspects of golf administration, not just here in Europe, but across the globe. George, as always, your attendance and your support is much appreciated.
Flanking Jack and George, are the two men we are here to honour today. Personally I'm very proud they are both Scots, but more importantly, they are both men who share a specialty affinity for European golf, for The Ryder Cup and for The European Tour in particular.
In his 30‑year tenure as Executive Director of The European Tour before handing over to George in 2005, Ken Schofield not only initiated global expansion for The European Tour, he also offered opportunity and incentive to Europe's top players, which, as you see from today's current World Rankings, they grabbed with both hands.
Ken, it's a pleasure to have you here with us today.
If Ken's authority was outside the ropes, the most influential man inside them in the 1990s was unquestionably Colin Montgomerie. Colin's remarkable achievement at winning the Harry Vardon Trophy seven times in a row, before adding an eighth for good measure in 2005, I think is something we may never see repeated in our lifetime. It forms the central part of a CV, which, of course, also includes eight Ryder Cup appearances as a player, before captaining Europe to that thrilling victory at Celtic Manor in 2010.
Colin, it's great to have you with us here today.
Ladies and gentlemen, please acknowledge our top table.
Now to kick matters off, it's my pleasure to hand the floor to European Tour Chief Executive, George O'Grady.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you, Scott, and thank you everyone for joining us today at the end of a very successful, long and arduous year, but a very enjoyable one.
It's always a pleasure to see Jack Peter here in London, who has governed the Hall of Fame for so many years so successfully. It doesn't seem that long ago we were here one year ago to welcome Peter Alliss, who is joining us today, and Sandy Lyle, into the Hall of Fame. It's wonderful to have the chairman of The European Tour here, Neil Coles, also in the Hall of Fame. We would have had John Jacobs, as well today, but he's not quite well enough to travel up from New Forest, but to have you here to welcome these two very worthy candidates into the Hall of Fame, I think is great to honour them and honour us with your presence pan.
I don't think you need me to say anything about Colin Montgomerie; he is The European Tour for such a long time, winning eight Vardon Trophies; winning I think is it 31 titles on the Tour, and really leading on the fairways The European Tour throughout the period that Ken and I worked together.
Now, Ken Schofield, what, can anybody, say about that man (laughter). How about, he was unique, and The European Tour are in his debt. It's great to see him go into the Hall of Fame, fully deserved.
And now, Jack, I'll leave it to you to welcome in your own way. And this, by the way, I called him last year, Jack Peter, he's an international American. He lived through the induction of Christy O'Connor in Ireland, he went to Royal Dublin where he was I think warmly welcomed in an Irish manner, and he survived; Jack Peter.
JACK PETER: All true. Thank you, George. It's obviously a real pleasure for me to be back in London. It's clearly one of my most favourite cities and can't help but get a little bit of an electric jolt, especially at Christmastime, so it's great to be here.
I do want to just thank The European Tour and specifically George, Richard Hills and Keith Waters, Mitchell Platts for making all this possible for us. We truly appreciate our relationship with The European Tour, and we have watched it blossom over the last few years, and thank them again for their help with today's announcement.
I also want to acknowledge Neil Coles and Peter Alliss, Hall of Fame members and let Peter know that people are still commenting on your speech, and in particular, the way you ended your speech. If you haven't seen it, we have copies available, but thanks for being here.
I don't have to tell this crowd what an extraordinary year it's been for London. As an American watching what's been going on in London and Europe, you all have a lot to be proud of. Between the Diamond Jubilee, summer Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Hall of Fame had an exhibition here this summer which went really very well. And unquestionable the story of the year in golf, the comeback story of the European Ryder Cup, so congratulations to everybody in this room; the world has truly taken notice.
I'm here today to make the final announcement of the 2013 class for the World Golf Hall of Fame. The ceremony will occur on Monday, May 6 at the Hall of Fame in St. Augustine Florida. It will once again kickoff THE PLAYERS Championship week, and I hope all of you can be there.
As you know, we previously announced that Fred Couples was inducted on the PGA TOUR ballot. We have announced that Ken Venturi was selected in the Lifetime Achievement category and Willie Park, Jr. was selectedthrough the Veteran's category posthumously for his contribution to the game.
So those of you that know me know that I would like to speak about the mission of the Hall of Fame whenever I get a chance and our purpose. And simply put: We exist to preserve the great history of the game and perhaps more importantly, the legacies of the people that play the game.
And certainly these two gentlemen on either side of the top table, I don't need to recite Colin's career to you, and frankly all of you will do that much better than I can.
But do I want to recognise the contribution not only to The European Tour and to The Ryder Cup, but to the game and in particular European golf. As George mentioned, he has been the very heart and soul of European golf for the better part of 30 years and we are just delighted that he will take his rightful place.
And if Colin was the heart and soul, Ken was certainly the visionary man outside the rope. It was his passion and forward thinking that really helped establish The European Tour as really one of the most respected and most successful professional tours, not only in golf but all of sport. His grand vision for the global expansion of the game, The European Tour began in one event in 1982, The Tunisian Open, and from there, it has just grown and the numbers are incredible.
There are children now in London and there are children in Latvia right now learning about golf and aspiring to become professional golfers. And I do want to tell them that gentlemen‑‑ indiscernible ‑‑ that to preserve your legacy for generations, it is our goal that when your children and children's children come visit the Hall of Fame, it's with great pride, and you will be immortalised in the Hall of Fame for generations. We are going to do that‑‑ whatever social media makes this, next year and the year after that, and the year after that.
So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to announce today that Colin Montgomerie has been he selected on the International Ballot and Ken Schofield has been selected in the Lifetime Achievement category, and both will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on May 6.
Colin, Ken, on behalf of our board of directors, our Hall of Fame members, our staff and more than 200 volunteers, I want to congratulate you on being welcomed into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, Jack. I know the two gentlemen who have been inducted would like to say a few words. Ken, let's start with you.
KEN SCHOFIELD: Thank you, Scott. First, I would simply like to say that I thought from eight years ago, I stopped taking shocking telephone calls from George. But the shock of George's call to me on October 19 this year was a very different and a very pleasant form of shock. He was outlining to me then for the first time what we have just heard today from Jack.
And to respond to it then was very difficult and I think from eight weeks on, it's even harder, except to say firstly to Jack, to you, the board of directors and indeed everyone at the Hall of Fame, a very big thank you.
I've been fortunate, as you would know, that I saw the groundbreaking ceremony a number of years ago, and I followed very closely what has been done and what you're still doing there, and I've marvelled at it; marvelled at all of essentially the great players of the game who have been inducted right through to Neil's induction, and indeed, Peter's on this side of the Atlantic and many others.
To join them is a privilege beyond any words that I could say this morning. Other than to say that I do think in this, the 40th anniversary of The European Tour, my induction I think is a broader one. I think it's to acknowledge where The European Tour has come from. It started with John Jacobs, and the challenge that I faced with George, and everyone who is here from the tour today, and many who have worked over these past 40 years, and you all know who they are, were given a wonderful privilege of trying to find competition for our players, and that, if you like, was our challenge outside the ropes, it was our competition.
It was a wonderful privilege to lead that team, even more so to hand over eight years ago to George, and to see the heights that he and today's team have taken our tour and witnessing the continued success of our players both individually at the highest level, and of course in The Ryder Cup Matches.
Jack, to you and everyone, my thanks, and to everyone in this room who has supported us, either in my team or George's team, all of the media today, and indeed, past gentlemen and ladies of the media who have supported the cause of The European Tour for those 40 years, my thanks.
And not forgetting that it would be right for me to say that today's star is really the inductee of inside the ropes, because Colin, to have done what you did, and for myself, George and others to have witnessed it firsthand, again, it was our privilege. I think Scott is correct; seven in a row and eight in total, will never I think be matched.
The leadership that you gave individually and as a playing member and a very recent winning captain of that Ryder Cup Team makes you the most deserving and among the leaders and champions to join the Europeans at St. Augustine. Congratulations, and thank you everyone.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you, very much. Colin, some nice words from everybody at the top table. I'm sure you share the sense of pride that Ken feels.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, very much so, and thank you, Ken, for your very kind words. Without the two gentlemen on my right, a lot of us on The European Tour would not have the lifestyle afforded to us, and start with Ken Schofield.
My success was really through those years of Ken's vision taking the Tour where it went, to the regions we went, all the time; the opportunity to the members of The European Tour, which I was one of, when I first started I wasn't getting into the US PGAs and U.S. Opens and Masters events, but Ken's vision made that possible not just for me but a number of us.
It's only right and I can say the same across the table, Ken, that you are inducted into the Hall of Fame. And congratulations to you and congratulations on what you've done to make this European Tour what it is today.
To George O'Grady, to take over from your position eight years ago and continue the European cause and the European success that we have today, and not just a few months ago in Chicago but ongoing, as well; currently with the No. 1 player in the world by a mile, it's a great time for European golf.
And George, everyone on The European Tour, and everyone in this room, we must thank each other for where we are today from where Ken started that gave us such a fantastic opportunity to play worldwide the way we do now. So, thank you, Ken, and George for what you've done for us all here in this room.
To Jack and his board, I thank you. It's a great honour for me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I once missed the cut down at the TPC, many times I did that and had Saturday, Sunday off before the Bay Hill event down the road in Orlando, and stopped off at the World Golf Hall of Fame and walked around and visited. Was in awe of what I saw then. And it's a grander place now than it was then, and I never dreamt in my wildest dreams that I would ever be inducted into this fabulous family of Hall of Famers, inductees.
It's a great thrill to be chosen and to be voted on by a worldwide panel. So thank you so much for that opportunity, and I look forward to May, along with Ken, to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and it's something that I, my family and everyone around will treasure forever. So thank you very much indeed for the opportunity. Thank you.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, Colin.
Q. I just wonder, amidst the list of achievements in your career where this one actually fits?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: This is top of the tree. You start off by starting off the Tour, and first thing you're trying to do is get your card and then try to keep your card, and then you try and win an event. And once you've won an event, you try and think about The Ryder Cup Team in the Top‑12 and then you make the team I suppose and then you go forward from there.
You play on The Ryder Cup Team and you try to win a Ryder Cup and then you're selected as captain of The Ryder Cup and then you try to win it as a captain, and then you wait for the vote to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. There's no higher honour.
So I sit here very humbled and very proud of the position I sit in here, very much so.
Q. We know the importance of the inductees on this side of the Atlantic, can you give us the ideas of the significance of the World Golf Hall of Fame‑‑
JACK PETER: You know, there's a lot of ways to answer that, but we'll play it straight. (Laughing). The World Golf Hall of Fame, obviously ITS location is in Florida as everyone knows, but it is‑‑ I spend most of my time thinking about how to present the Hall of Fame as a global institution and really help the best of all of golf around the world.
I think that Colin and Ken representing Scotland only helps my job and makes my job a little bit easier. They travel the world and they talk to a lot of individuals, and having them as our global ambassadors will certainly help my job and continue to position the Hall of Fame and for it to be a global institution that's recognised and it's great for the game.
For me to come over here the second year in a row and have individuals like Ken and Colin, both from Scotland, and elsewhere in Europe, it's the realisation of a dream of the Hall of Fame, frankly, so we are delighted.
Q. Where would you rate this, Rory McIlroy, world No. 1by a mile ‑‑
KEN SCHOFIELD: Firstly, thank you, and I heard from another Scot last Monday; I was at a function with Bernard and Bernard simply said, it was the best year and he felt it was the best Ryder Cup. And Bernard Gallacher is very well qualified to give his view on various Ryder Cups, both winning and losing Ryder Cups.
I think, really, the whole year, particularly to have Rory McIlroy, as Colin said, lead the rankings by a very considerable distance, probably the largest distance since Tiger, in fact, established the all‑time record, and clearly, the success of the team and the manner of it at Medinah; and also, the way the fellas have finished the year.
I thought personally one of the great things on that day was that from the two matches from 4‑10 down that we know changed the whole course of Medinah, set up that possible platform for Sunday, and the top five guys came through.
But I think one of the differences and I think Colin would maybe hopefully agree with this, but Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Sergio García, two of them world No. 1s; Martin Kaymer, Major Champion. They were left, if you like, in the bottom end of our team where their job was if the top guys got us in contention with the potential to either retain and/or win the day, for them to come through; and.
Although it had not been those three golfers' best year, maybe not their best week, the sheer quality of them by giving them that half chance shone through and I think it's that strength and total depth of our tour, if you like, has emerged in the 40 years, not just this year. Colin saw it in Wales, where because of the weather conditions, all 12 players had to be fielded, if you like, for the first time.
It's less than ten years ago that there was a feeling that Ryder Cups were being won by maybe two thirds of the team and not all 12. Well, that was banished forever at Celtic Manor. I think Medinah showed that it is possible to win from 4‑10 down away, and in any sport, that's a very big ask. And I think for any of us to think that there's been something better, well, I've not seen it.
Q. You've had fun with the Americans in the past does; it make it even more special to be accepted in this manner?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so. Very much so. Especially going over to St. Augustine, as you know, where the World Golf Hall of Fame is and to be inducted in America is a very special and will be a very special moment for me, definitely.
Yes, I had my fun in America but at the same time all good banter and good competition, and I'm very competitive, and so were they and it made it quite interesting.
But at the same time, I'm looking forward to not just going over there in May but starting a possible new career over in America. There's a chance I might play in a few of their senior events, their Champions Tour events over there, anyway, so it's the perfect time to be inducted into the Hall of Fame just before I start on a possible new career over in America, along with the European Senior Tour here.
Q. If you could give one word, maximum, two, on each, what would you say?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Competitive, both are very competitive in their own ways and both are unique. Does that say it all? Unique. (Laughter). I could go visually; I could give a whole lot of other adjectives, as well. But the great thing about Colin, he is competitive, he's competitive with the American gallery, as well, initially; it's a two‑way street. He is a great guy. You don't normally want to come across Colin just after he's 3‑putted the 18th (laughter) but if you give him 45 minutes, you get a really good appraisal of where you should be going, and it's not just great golf.
Ken, I did say it after, when he retired. I worked alongside you for 25 years, and the big phrase then, a lot of people get less time in prison for murder, and that was about it. Let's settle for unique (laughter).
Q. Obviously the World Golf Hall of Fame spans every angle of the game, for players being inducted today, like Willie Park, Jr.‑‑ how many members do you have in the World Golf Hall of Fame? Who is the youngest and who is the oldest?
JACK PETER: I think that with this five, the class number is 146 now. The youngest and oldest‑‑ I think the oldest living member, I don't know how old John Jacobs is, or Christy O'Connor is probably.
The youngest would be one of the women, which would either be SeRiPak or Annika, because they were brought in very early, early 30s, so I'm not quite sure exactly. Without getting into, it there are five ways into the Hall of Fame. Some are elected tracks and some are selection, and it is designed, like I said earlier, to recognise a broad spectrum of people, players, administrators, broadcasters, people that have really contributed vitally, and it's a very arduous and diligent process, both elected and selected tracks that we take very seriously. For those that don't get in, we have a phrase: It's not no; it's not yet.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance, Ken, Colin, many congratulations and please enjoy the rest of the day. Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports