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Christy O'Connor Named to World Golf Hall of Fame


Christy O'Connor, whose popularity and status in the game earned him his nickname "Himself," has been selected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Veterans Category. The announcement was made May 13 at Royal Dublin Golf Club.

O'Connor will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., on November 2 as part of the Class of 2009. He will become the second Irishman to enter the Hall of Fame, behind the late Joe Carr, who was inducted in 2007.

O'Connor said of his selection: "This is a fantastic honor, not only for myself and my family but for the whole of Ireland and, in particular, all my friends in professional golf - sadly many now departed - who helped me enjoy a wonderful career in the game. I never expected to be nominated, never mind elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, and my deepest thanks go to those who felt I was a deserving case and those who voted for me to join such a distinguished list of golfing people.

"All my life I always tried my best to represent my country with dignity, whether it was playing for Ireland in the Canada Cup (World Cup of Golf) or for Great Britain and Ireland in The Ryder Cup. I have enjoyed a great life in golf and golf has done so much for me. This is the cream and I am quite overwhelmed. This news comes in the same week that I celebrate 50 years as a professional at Royal Dublin. I would have to say it is one of the great weeks in my life and I am looking forward enormously to being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame."

During a career that spanned four decades, O'Connor won 24 titles on the European Tour, including the 1956 and 1959 British Masters; 20 additional international tournaments, including 10 Irish PGA Championships; and eight times on the senior circuit. Perhaps even more notable is his participation on 10 Ryder Cup teams, a record bested only by fellow Hall of Fame member Nick Faldo.

George O'Grady, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: "Christy's induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame is a richly deserved honor for one of Ireland's greatest sporting heroes. It speaks volumes for Christy's stature in the game, not only in his native country but on far-flung shores, that he needs no introduction other than 'Himself.'

"Christy's natural, effortless swing made him a favorite with the crowds over three decades in which he won 44 professional titles and became the first Irish winner of the Harry Vardon Trophy in 1962, a title he defended the following year.

"Golf runs through the veins of the O'Connor family and through all his success down the years, Christy has remained the same modest, self-effacing person who endeared himself to a small nation besotted by his glorious talent. All of us at the European Tour would like to convey our congratulations to Christy, his wife Mary and their extended family on his elevation to the Hall of Fame."

O'Connor, 84, turned professional in 1946 and during the 1960s won at least one professional tournament a year on the European Tour. He became the first Irishman to win the Harry Vardon Trophy for leading the Order of Merit in 1961 and became the only Irishman to win the award twice in 1962.

"We're very excited and pleased to have Christy O'Connor join the World Golf Hall of Fame," said Jack Peter, the Hall's Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "His impact on the game, in Ireland and around the world, has been felt for more than 50 years and it's an honor to welcome into the Hall of Fame family."

In 1955, O'Connor became the first player to win 1,000 for a tournament in European golf at the Swallow-Penfold. And in 1970 he captured the richest prize in competitive golf when he won the John Player Classic, collecting 25,000. He was granted Honorary Membership of the European Tour in 2004 and his accolades went on to include the Tooting Bec Cup in 1961, 1963 and 1969 and the Association of Golf Writers Trophy in 1977.

His impressive Ryder Cup career, which extended from 1955 through 1973, included being a part in the 1957 Ryder Cup victory at Lindrick, when the Great Britain and Ireland Team captained by Dai Rees ended 24 years of American domination. He still ranks near the top in several European Ryder Cup categories, including being the second oldest player to compete at age 48 in 1973; being tied for fifth for most matches played (36); and ranking second for most singles matches played (14).

O'Connor also holds the Irish record for most appearances in the World Cup with 15, and along with Harry Bradshaw helped Ireland win in 1958.

He will join American Lanny Wadkins, who was elected on the PGA Tour ballot, at the 2009 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which will take place at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., on Monday, November 2. Subsequent announcements for the 2009 Class are forthcoming.

For more information about the World Golf Hall of Fame, visit www.wgv.com.