Graeme McDowell, who enjoyed a spectacular season on tour which saw him anchor Europe to victory in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and claim a breakthrough win in the Majors when winning the US Open at Pebble Beach, has been voted the ‘Professional of the Year’ in the AIB Irish Golf Writers’ Awards for 2010.
The 31-year-old Ulsterman was an unanimous selection for the professional accolade, following a year in which he moved to number seven in the world rankings after wins in the Wales Open, the US Open, the Andalucia Valderrama Masters and the Chevron World Challenge. His singles win over Hunter Mahan in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in October enabled Colin Montgomerie’s team to regain the trophy from the United States.
“I am deeply honoured to win this award – and to see that Rory McIlroy and Pádraig Harrington won in previous years confirms the strength of Irish golf at this time. In fact, European golf is riding the crest of a wave at the moment with Lee Westwood’s move to number one in the world rankings and Martin Kaymer’s win at the US PGA Championship.
“This was a tremendous year for me personally and professionally. To win my first Major championship at Pebble Beach and then to bring home the team to victory at the Ryder Cup made this past season very special, the stuff of dreams. I’m now looking forward to some family time at home in Portrush before returning to the tour in Hawaii next month,” said McDowell, who previously won an amateur award from the IGWA in 2000.
“I would like to thank my family for their tremendous support through the years and also the team I have assembled, my caddie Ken Comboy, my coach Pete Cowen and my management at Horizon Sports, for all of their assistance in making 2010 such a great year,” added McDowell.
Alan Dunbar – who, like McDowell, is a member of Rathmore Golf Club – has been voted the ‘Men’s Amateur of the Year’ following his wins in the AIB Irish Amateur Open and the Magners North of Ireland championships, while Danielle McVeigh, of Royal County Down Ladies, has been voted the ‘Women’s Amateur of the Year’.
McVeigh, who won the Scottish Open strokeplay championship earlier in the season, was the highest points winner for Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup match against the United States in Massachusetts in June where she included a singles win over US amateur champion Jennifer Song in her impressive performance.
Bill Gibson, an honorary life member of Curragh Golf Club, has been named as the recipient of the ‘Distinguished Services to Golf’ award. Considered the authority on golfing history in Ireland, having written two golf club centenary histories (Carlow and Newlands), Gibson – a retired colonel in the Irish army – has assisted in the production of 30 other club histories and was a contributor to the Royal and Ancient’s history in 2004 to mark their 250th anniversary.
The four recipients of the AIB Irish Golf Writers’ Association awards will be honoured at an Awards Dinner in Dublin on 27th January next.