Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Five young Gunners commit to Arsenal

Arsenal Football Club is delighted to announce that five of its young internationals have today signed new long-term contracts. The quintet of Kieran Gibbs (23), Carl Jenkinson (20), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (19), Aaron Ramsey (21) and Jack Wilshere (20), who are all full internationals, and between them have already made more than 350 first-team appearances for the Gunners, have all committed their long-term futures to Arsenal. All five players who have signed new deals represent British countries. Midfielder Ramsey has made the most appearances for his country, playing 24 times and also captaining the Wales national team. The other four players who have put pen to paper on new deals, are all full England internationals. Defender Jenkinson is the most recent to win his first cap, making his full England debut in November in the friendly international in Sweden. Defender Gibbs was a regular under-21 international and has now won two England caps, with midfielder Wilshere representing the Three Lions on nine occasions. Manager Arsène Wenger said: “We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts. The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players, in order to get them to develop their talent at the Club. Jack is certainly the best known, the leader of this group - but the other four players are exceptional footballers, and we’re very happy that we could conclude their new deals at the same time. Wenger continued: “Gibbs, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey and Wilshere represent a core of the squad and it’s an extension for a long period for all of them. I’m a strong believer in stability and I believe when you have a core of British players, it’s always easier to keep them together and that’s what we’ll try to achieve going forward.” Everyone at Arsenal Football Club looks forward to the continued contribution of Kieran, Carl, Alex, Aaron and Jack in the forthcoming years.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rory roars to the top in 2012

Rory McIlroy has been named The 2012 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year, capping a sensational year for the World Number One. The 23 year old Northern Irishman succeeds Luke Donald as winner of the coveted award, having also replicated the Englishman’s previously unprecedented achievement of winning both The Race to Dubai and the US PGA Tour Money List in the same season. In August, McIlroy captured his second Major Championship, claiming the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by eight strokes and in doing so set a new record for the largest winning margin in the Championship, beating the seven stroke triumph of Jack Nicklaus at Oak Hill in 1980. It also matched the winning margin he achieved during his maiden Major triumph in the 2011 US Open Championship at Congressional. He also won three times on the US PGA Tour – in The Honda Classic, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship – and played a vital role in Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup winning team, before ending a magnificent personal year by winning The European Tour’s season finalé, The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, in style, birdieing the final five holes on the Earth course to triumph by two strokes. That fifth title worldwide in 2012 also meant McIlroy finished The European Tour season with record earnings of €5,519,118, beating the previous mark of €5,323,400 set by Donald last year, as he became the youngest player to win the Harry Vardon Trophy since Scotland’s Sandy Lyle in 1980 and the fourth youngest in total behind Seve Ballesteros, Dale Hayes and Lyle. McIlroy can now add The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year award to his list of accomplishments in 2012, which includes winning the Golf Writers’ Trophy on this side of the Atlantic as well as the PGA Tour Player of the Year honours in the United States. The judging panel, which featured golf journalists from newspapers and magazines as well as commentators from radio and television, also reserved praise for several other worthy candidates, specifically Englishman Ian Poulter, who won four points out of four in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory as well as claiming his second World Golf Championship title in China in November, and South African Branden Grace, who won four times on The European Tour in 2012 after securing his card at Qualifying School the previous November. But McIlroy, who was announced as the winner at the annual Golfer of the Year Luncheon at the Lancaster Hotel in London, received the unanimous vote from the panel to become only the second Northern Irishman, following his friend Graeme McDowell (who shared the award with Germany’s Martin Kaymer in 2010), to receive the accolade. “Everyone who knows me knows how special the 2012 season was,” said McIlroy. “A couple of wins, including a Major, and consistent performances in big events all helped me win The Race to Dubai for the first time. To win that was a massive highlight of an amazing season, and I hope it will be the first of many. Now, to have been named as The European Tour Golfer of the Year puts the icing on the cake. “It is a very special honour indeed and you only need to look down the list of players who have preceded me as the winner of this award to see precisely why – quite simply, it is a Who’s Who of golf and I’m delighted to now be a part of that in the history books. “We play golf because we relish the opportunity to win Major Championships and world-class tournaments around the globe. But when we do that, to be recognised for these achievements is a great thrill and I thank all the members of the panel who voted for me.” McIlroy is no stranger to the record books and this latest honour saw him add another to the annals as he became the youngest player to win Golfer of the Year since the award’s inauguration in 1985.  Bill Elliott, Golf Monthly contributor and Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “At times, selecting the winner of such a prestigious award such as this can be difficult, as was the case in 2010 when Graeme and Martin shared the accolade. But this year, our decision was straightforward. “Rory’s performances on the golf course were spectacular but not only that, it was also the way he conducted himself on and off the golf course – with ourselves in the media and everyone else connected with this great old game – that made him a thoroughly deserved winner.” Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent of The Daily Mail, added: “The 2012 season was a remarkable one for European Tour golf with outstanding exploits from players such as Ian Poulter, who produced the greatest performance in the history of The Ryder Cup at Medinah, and Branden Grace who surpassed all expectations by winning four times the season after coming through the Qualifying School. “Rory, however, capped all that by what he achieved across the year, but specifically at Kiawah Island and in Dubai. Both were immense performances that took not only his game, but golf as a whole to a new level.” Iain Carter, Golf Correspondent for BBC Radio Five Live, concluded: “Rory’s win in the US PGA Championship in August was stunning and had already ensured his place in golfing history, before his win in Dubai simply put an exclamation mark on a truly remarkable season. There is no question that he is the undisputed Golfer of the Year.”

Monty and Ken in Hall of fame

Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield share, as player and administrator respectively, a special affinity with both The European Tour and The Ryder Cup and they will be honoured for their contribution to the game next year when they are inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum. Montgomerie – elected through the International Ballot – and Schofield – selected through the Lifetime Achievement Category – will be honoured along with fellow 2013 inductees Fred Couples, Willie Park Jnr and Ken Venturi at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 6, 2013, at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida. George O’Grady, The European Tour Chief Executive, and Jack Peter, the Hall of Fame Chief Operating Officer, made the official announcement at a special Media Conference attended by both Montgomerie and Schofield prior to The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Luncheon in London, England, today. O’Grady said: “This is a very special day for golf and for The European Tour. Colin and Ken are unique individuals and their contribution to not only The European Tour, on and off the fairways, but also The Ryder Cup makes them both very worthy candidates for the World Golf Hall of Fame. “Colin’s achievement in winning the Harry Vardon Trophy eight times, including seven in a row, took considerable talent, skill, imagination, endurance, physical strength and mental resilience. Any aspiring and ambitious golfer on The European Tour today craves the opportunity to win The Race to Dubai, which has succeeded the Order of Merit, just once – to do it eight times is universally viewed as a superhuman feat. “Colin became European Number One for the eighth time in 2005 which, coincidentally, was the year I succeeded Ken. Unquestionably, Ken’s contribution to The European Tour is incalculable. His vision, passion and reservoir of knowledge established the foundations that we enjoy today and, like Colin, he has enthusiastically supported and taken enormous joy from Europe’s recent triumphs in The Ryder Cup.” Jack Peter added: “Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield will be excellent additions to the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum. The Class of 2013 is a wonderful snapshot of the rich, international history of the game. We look forward to celebrating all of the achievements of this distinguished group at the 2013 Induction Ceremony.” Montgomerie dominated The European Tour in the 1990s, finishing Number One seven times in succession from 1993 and then capturing another Harry Vardon Trophy in 2005. The Scot turned professional in 1987, following his second Walker Cup appearance, and won 31 European Tour titles – a record by a British player – including three successive PGA Championships at Wentworth Club and, in total, 40 tournaments worldwide. In eight successive Ryder Cup appearances from 1991, Montgomerie created a remarkable record of being unbeaten in the singles with six wins and two halves in addition to winning nine and a half points from 14 foursomes and seven points from 14 fourballs. He then went on to captain the European Team which regained The Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales, in 2010. Montgomerie, who received the MBE in 1998 and then the OBE in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List, will be eligible to compete on the European Senior Tour when he celebrates his 50th birthday on June 23 next year. Montgomerie said: “It is a wonderful surprise to hear that I will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next year. I know I am very fortunate to have enjoyed such a successful career playing the game I love and it makes me feel very proud that my achievements have been recognised in this way. While my eight Order of Merit wins were very special, as everyone knows my Ryder Cup experiences have provided the very best moments in my career and receiving this great honour is the icing on the cake. I am delighted that my dear friend Ken Schofield’s notable contribution to European golf will also be recognised at next year’s ceremony and I look forward to sharing this special occasion with him.” Schofield became First Secretary and Executive Director of The European Tour on January 1, 1975, succeeding John Jacobs. When he took the helm, The European Tour comprised 17 official events with an official prize fund of €599,084 and when he retired at the end of 2004 there were 45 official events with official prize money of £106,010,654, in addition to 29 European Challenge Tour events and 21 European Senior Tour events. Schofield initiated global expansion for the game when he took The European Tour outside of the Continent for the first time in 1982 with the playing of the Tunisian Open so beginning a structure whereby the Tour positioned itself internationally – co-sanctioned tournaments with other Tours now total 164 since the inaugural one in South Africa in 1995 - with more opportunity and incentive for the players in first the Major Championships then the World Golf Championships. Since his retirement Schofield, born and raised in Perthshire, Scotland, where he became, aged 23, Scotland’s youngest bank manager, has become an integral part of The Golf Channel’s broadcast team at The Ryder Cup and Major Championships and served for five years as President of The Golf Foundation, of which a Founder Member was Hall of Fame Member Sir Henry Cotton, prior to being succeeded by Montgomerie. He is also on the Board of several companies and organisations and was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1996 Schofield said: “I am delighted not just for myself but also for The European Tour. This is an honour for absolutely everyone who in the last 40 years helped the Tour become what it is today. For me it is quite unexpected and I am both delighted and humbled that I should be given a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum in the company of so many great names who have together contributed to making the game of golf so special in our lives.” With the full class announced, the Hall of Fame will begin preparations for the Induction Ceremony and for information about the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum, or the 2013 Induction Ceremony, visit

Friday, December 07, 2012

Jimenez top notch in November

Miguel Angel Jiménez has been named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for November in recognition of his record-breaking victory in the UBS Hong Kong Open. The Spaniard made it a Hong Kong hat-trick with his one stroke win over Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed, adding to the titles he won at Fanling in 2005 and 2008, and in doing so became the oldest winner in European Tour history at 48 years and 318 days, beating the previous record held by Irishman Des Smyth who was 48 years and 34 days when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open. Jiménez, who receives an engraved alms dish and a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne in acknowledgement of his achievement, produced a superb final round of 65 to seal the victory, his 19th on The European Tour on his 597th appearance. The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, which comprises members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, faced arguably their toughest decision in the history of the award. Indeed Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, whose stunning victory in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai completed his coronation as European Number One; Englishman Ian Poulter, who won his second World Golf Championship in style at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China; and Italian Matteo Manassero, who became the first teenager in European Tour history to win three times following his triumph in the Barclays Singapore Open, all earned votes from the panel in a lively debate. Also recognised were Luke Donald for his triumph in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan; Martin Kaymer for his win in the Nedbank Golf Challenge; Graeme McDowell for his success in the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual; and Henrik Stenson for his victory in the SA Open Championship, his first European Tour triumph for five years. But, in the end, it was Jiménez who held sway. “When you look at the list of candidates for the November award it not only illustrates how hard a decision it was to make, but also just how healthy European Tour golf is at the moment,” said Michael Harris, the editor of Golf Monthly and a member of the nine-strong panel. “Every single one of them had a legitimate claim but in the end Miguel Angel Jiménez proved just too hard to resist. To win a tournament on The European Tour, given the growing standard out there, is hard enough at the best of times, but to do it at almost 49 years of age is remarkable. “But Miguel is just that, remarkable. He is an entertainer and has such an infectious love of life and golf that I know a lot of people have been inspired to take up the game just by watching the fun he has on the course. His win in Hong Kong against a high-quality field was fantastic and, as a result, he is a worthy winner of the award for November.” Jiménez follows Branden Grace (January), Paul Lawrie (February), Rory McIlroy (March and August), Louis Oosthuizen (April), Luke Donald (May), Jamie Donaldson (June), Ernie Els (July), Ian Poulter (September) and Peter Hanson (October) in winning a Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Award this year. All ten will be considered for The 2012 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award, which will be announced later this month.