Friday, May 17, 2013


Neil Coles MBE, one of the most respected figures in the world of professional golf over the past six decades, has announced his decision to step down as Chairman of the Board of Directors of The PGA European Tour.
The 78 year old Englishman took on the role of Chairman in November 1975 and, over the past 38 years, has overseen not only significant growth and development of The European Tour, but also the formation and subsequent establishment of the European Challenge Tour in 1989 and the European Senior Tour in 1992. 
“I took the decision last Christmas at the same time as I agreed with the board for the entire structure and the constitution of The European Tour to be reviewed by an independent body,” said Coles. “This was done to ensure the Tour, and its constitution, was equipped to face the many and varied challenges of the modern age.”
With the review having taken place over the early months of 2013, the new structure was accepted by The European Tour Board of Directors during their meeting at Wentworth on Monday May 13, meaning the task of finding a new chairman has now begun, with Coles remaining in situ until the board decides on a new appointment. 
The successor to Coles will be determined by a selection committee who will take into consideration a number of factors including the candidates’ involvement in a modern, international sporting arena as well as their experience in dealing with diverse sporting, business and political issues.
Coles added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chairman and it has been an honour and a privilege to serve such a prestigious organisation in a sport which has been my life, both inside the ropes and inside the boardroom.” 
George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, led the many tributes from the world of golf. He said: “For as long as I have worked in professional golf, Neil Coles has been a constant figurehead, giving stability to The European Tour at all times.
“Since I became Chief Executive in 2005, he has given me personally, great consistency and confidence in implementing the policies of the Tour in a fast changing world, as the Tour has expanded to embrace golfing organisations and countries throughout the world. 
“He has always possessed a calm demeanour and a great concern for the game, and his unique contribution to professional golf has not only influenced the growth of the Tour, but will also make him a very hard man to replace.”
Coles turned professional at the age of 16 in 1950 but soon progressed to become one of the dominant figures of his age, winning a total of 25 European Tour titles and representing Great Britain and Ireland in eight Ryder Cup Matches between 1961 and 1977. 
During his European Tour career, his consistency was legendary. Between 1973 and 1979 he played 68 consecutive tournaments without missing a cut before, in 1982, he won the Sanyo Open at Sant Cugat at the age of 48 years and 14 days to become the oldest winner in Tour history, a record that remained until it was surpassed, firstly by Des Smyth in 2001 and subsequently by Miguel Angel Jiménez in 2012.
After turning 50, Coles’ assault on the record books continued apace, winning 15 European Senior Tour titles in total including the 2000 Microlease Jersey Seniors Open, a victory which saw him become the first professional golfer in history to win in six different decades. 
His final victory on the European Senior Tour came in the Lawrence Batley Seniors in June 2002 when he beat David Creamer and Steve Stull in a play-off at Huddersfield Golf Club. At 67 years and 276 days, the victory not only extended his own record as the oldest man to win on the Senior Tour, he also comfortably confirmed his place as the oldest winner in Senior golf worldwide, a record that stands to this day.



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