Great Dane handed PGA recognition award

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BJORN WINNER: Thomas Bjorn receives his PGA Recognition Award from PGA captain John Heggarty

THOMAS Bjorn has followed in the footsteps of many illustrious Ryder Cup captains by becoming the latest recipient of The PGA Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to golf.

Bjorn, who will lead Europe’s bid to regain the Ryder Cup in France next September, received the award at The PGA’s annual fundraising lunch at the Grosvenor House hotel in London.

The 46-year-old joins fellow Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance, Sir Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie and Bjorn’s predecessor, Darren Clarke, who he was vice-captain to at Hazeltine National Golf Club in 2008, as winners of the prestigious accolade.

A 15-time winner on the European Tour and twice runner-up in The Open Championship in 2000 and 2003, Bjorn became the first Danish player to represent Europe against the United States in the Ryder Cup in 1997.

Europe won that encounter at Spain’s Valderrama Golf Club with Ballesteros as captain, as they did in Bjorn’s other two appearances, at The Belfry in 2002 and at Gleneagles in Scotland 12 years later.

Bjorn brings a wealth of experience to the role having served as a vice-captain on no fewer than four occasions under Bernhard Langer (2004), Montgomerie (2010), José María Olazábal in 2012 and more recently Clarke at Hazeltine National in 2016, where United States won the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008.

The Dane will make history again next year when he becomes the first Scandinavian Ryder Cup captain as the famous team competition returns to mainland Europe for a second time at Le Golf National from September 28-30.

Speaking after receiving the award, Bjorn said: “There are so many people that can be recognised for their achievements in the game and I am honoured to receive this award, especially from The PGA.

“While Tour players are on the front line, it is the PGA Professionals worldwide who are doing the groundwork and forming the base for the game to develop. They are the ones who are most important.”

PGA Executive President, Sandy Jones, who hosted the PGA Annual Lunch, said: “We’re delighted to present the PGA Recognition Award to Thomas Bjorn.

“This award is our way of acknowledging great achievements in the game of golf and Thomas is a deserving winner.

“He had a great career as a player and enjoyed great success in the Ryder Cup being on the winning team on three occasions.

“There is no doubt that Thomas will be a superb Ryder Cup captain next year in Paris, and we wish him all the good luck and success in bringing the trophy home to Europe.”

Robert Maxfield, chief executive for The PGA, added: “Thomas Bjorn is a hugely popular figure in the game and is a credit to the sport.

“His messages of support for our 2017 PGA Cup-winning team at Foxhills Club & Resort back in September demonstrates how much he supports the game of golf at all levels.

“It is fitting that Thomas has won this award ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup in France where he will have the full support of the Association in helping bring back the Ryder Cup to Europe.”

In addition to a passionate speech by Bjorn, around 1,000 guests were entertained by highly-rated comedian Ben Norris and Dougie Donnelly.

A £50,000 cheque was presented to the Golf Foundation as The PGA showed its support of grass roots golf. Money was also raised for the PGA Benevolent Fund which helps Members who have fallen on difficult times.

 

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