Brian Huggett has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour in recognition of his achievements across a career lasting more than half a century and for his outstanding contribution to the Tour and The Ryder Cup.
The Welshman, who turned professional in 1951, won 16 titles in Europe, including two victories after the official launch of The European Tour in 1972. Having finished joint runner-up to Peter Thomson in the 1965 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, he eventually tasted Major Championship glory when he won The Senior Open Championship in 1998 at Royal Portrush, one of ten victories on the European Senior Tour.
However, he will perhaps be best remembered for his role in The Ryder Cup, first as a player winning 12 points from six appearances between 1963 and 1975, then in 1977 at Royal Lytham & St Annes as the last man to captain Great Britain & Ireland before the team became Europe two years later at The Greenbrier.
The 75 year old was also instrumental in The Ryder Cup being staged in Wales for the first time in 2010 and acted as an ambassador at The Celtic Manor Resort.
Fittingly, it was at a gala dinner at The Celtic Manor Resort ahead of the ISPS Handa Wales Open that European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady announced Huggett’s Honorary Life Membership.
O’Grady said: “Brian undoubtedly played a crucial role in the formation of The European Tour and also the development of The Ryder Cup into the unique contest it is today. As a player he was a terrific competitor and this is a deserved reward for an outstanding career.”
Huggett said: “This is a big honour for me to receive the Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour. At 75 I thought I had missed out so it is very special for me, especially as it has come from the players and the board.
“I’d like to thank the Chairman Neil Coles who is a great friend of mine and it is nice that they have recognised me and I am delighted. I’ve had a good innings, not only on the main Tour but on the Senior Tour too. Winning the Senior Open was a thrill and one of the highlights of my career but I’ve had so many, especially in The Ryder Cup over the years.
“The Ryder Cup is what it is today because a few of us performed well. Now we are okay because we have so many good players and we are winning more than we are losing. Being Captain in 1977 was a great honour, especially being the last man to captain the Great Britain & Ireland team. I then went on to do the negotiations for the team incorporating players from Continental Europe, so I played quite a role in that. And I was involved in The Ryder Cup coming to Wales, which was a big thrill for me, especially as it was such an exciting Ryder Cup.
“The Tour’s success today is down to good leadership, through Ken Schofield and now George O’Grady, and The Ryder Cup, through Richard Hills, plays a big part in that. Now we have the top players in the world and we are winning The Ryder Cup, so The European Tour is in a fantastic position. In these economic times for the Tour to be so strong is unbelievable.”
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