Queen Elizabeth Honours U.S Open Golf King
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell was among the sports figures honored by Queen Elizabeth II in her New Year list.
The Northern Irish star was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire after a year in which he won his first major title and Pebble Beach and captured the decisive Ryder Cup points for Europe.
Also made an MBE was English football referee Howard Webb, who this year became the first man to take charge of the Champions League and World Cup finals in the same year.
Former England rugby player Mike Catt is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire after retiring in May, while Martin Broughton was knighted—for services to business rather than his stint as chairman of Premier League football club Liverpool.
In New Zealand, Bob Charles, the first left-hander to win one of golf’s major tournaments, has been awarded New Zealand’s highest civil honor.
Charles was admitted to the Order of New Zealand, an honor restricted to only 20 living New Zealanders. He won the 1963 British Open and finished his career with 66 tournament victories.
The 74-year-old Charles won the British Open after a 36-hole playoff with American Phil Rodgers and was a six-time winner on the U.S. PGA tour. He was knighted for services to golf in 1999 and has been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“Back then we played 18 holes on the Wednesday, 18 holes on the Thursday and 36 on the Friday and the playoff was then another 36 on the Saturday,” Charles said of his British Open victory. “It was a little bit of an endurance contest and I think that was the end of the 36-hole playoffs.”
Charles won 23 times on the U.S. Seniors Tour, a mark surpassed by only four players, and continued to take on a heavy schedule of professional tournaments until the middle of this year.
Although officially retired, he practices three times a week and said he would continue to play selected events including the Legends of Golf tournament in the United States which he won for the second straight year in 2010 with Gary Player of South Africa.
Charles was credited with blazing a trail for left-handed players. Until his arrival on the professional tour, club manufacturers produced little specialist equipment for left-handers and courses were often set up for right-handed players.
“Golf has been very good to me. It was the reason I got a knighthood and various other awards in my golfing life which has spread over 50 years,” Charles said.
The coach and captain of the New Zealand football team which was unbeaten at this year’s World Cup were also recognized in the annual New Year’s honors list.