McDowell and Kaymer share European Tour Golfer of the Year gong

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the joint winners of The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award (©Getty Images) Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell have been voted joint winners of the Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year - the first time the award has been shared in its 25-year history.
McDowell, 31, won three times on The European Tour International Schedule, beginning with victory in The Celtic Manor Wales Open in June on The Twenty Ten Course where he would play such a pivotal role in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph a mere four months later. He is also the second Irish player to win the award following Padraig Harrington’s back to back wins in 2007 and 2008.
Like Kaymer, McDowell then went on to pick up his first Major Championship victory in the United States, an emotional success in the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach where his dad Kenny was on hand, on Fathers’ Day, to see his son become the first European golfer to win the US Open in 40 years, since Tony Jacklin triumphed at Hazeltine National in 1970.
His third victory came in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters at the end of October, a win which helped reignite The Race to Dubai and he chased Kaymer all the way to the final event – the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates – eventually having to settle for a career high of second place with season earnings of €3,896,995.
Sandwiched between his victories in the United States and Spain was his second Ryder Cup appearance and one which ended in nail-biting fashion as, in the last singles out on the course, he was handed the task of getting Europe over the winning line which he achieved with a thrilling 3 and 1 victory over Hunter Mahan which saw Colin Montgomerie’s Team win 14 ½ - 13 ½. Like Kaymer, he too contributed two and a half points overall to the European cause.
McDowell, who climbed to a career-high seventh on the Official World Golf Ranking following his victory in the Chevron World Challenge, said: “I am truly humbled to accept this coveted award.  It is the icing on the cake on what has been a very special year for myself, Martin and everyone involved in European golf.  It is an honour to share this award with a player of Martin’s calibre.  He is one of the best players of our generation and I am sure will enjoy many more successes in the years to come.
“We have both enjoyed superb seasons, winning our first Major Championships and numerous other tournaments across the world.  However, to be jointly voted European Tour Golfer of the Year by the members of the media makes me very proud.  I would like to thank everyone involved with The European Tour and the wider golf media for their hard work in promoting our sport around the world.
“I achieved many of my dreams this season and feel fortunate to have enjoyed some very special moments. However, the highlight of the year for me was being a part of the winning European Ryder Cup Team at Celtic Manor. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of The Ryder Cup and the experience of playing for both your team-mates and the European fans under the most extreme pressure. I hope that I am lucky enough to play in many more successful teams in the future.”
Kaymer, 25, won four times on The European Tour International Schedule, capturing the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at the start of the season and three tournaments in a row during a sensational autumn spell, a run which began with his first Major Championship victory when he came from behind in a three-hole play-off at Whistling Straits to beat American Bubba Watson to the US PGA Championship title.
He then followed that with a win on his return to competitive stroke play action in the KLM Open in the Netherlands before triumphing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. It was a run which provided the platform for him to also finish Number One on The Race to Dubai with record season earnings of €4,461,011.
In the midst of his triumphant autumn, he also made his Ryder Cup debut at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, returning two and a half points from his four matches including a vital fourball victory in the first match of the entire contest, in partnership with Lee Westwood, against Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
Kaymer said: “This has been a truly great year for me and winning this award is the perfect ending. It is recognition for my performances in 2010 and to be voted for by the golfing media, the people who watch and report on our sport throughout the year, makes me feel very proud.
“I am always trying to follow in Bernhard Langer’s footsteps and to see that I have now won an award that he was the first to win back in 1985 is very satisfying indeed. I followed in his footsteps earlier this season by winning a Major Championship, playing in a winning Ryder Cup Team and being given Honorary Membership of The European Tour and now I have taken another step by winning the Golfer of the Year Award. But he is still many steps ahead of me!
“Graeme and I had pretty much the same level of success this season in terms of the Majors and on The European Tour and he deserves this recognition as much as I do. His winning match in The Ryder Cup was huge for all of Europe and for both of us to now make history in terms of sharing this award for the first time, represents a very proud moment for both our families and also shows how strong European golf is right now.”
Iain Carter, Golf Correspondent of BBC Radio Five Live and a member of the judging panel, explained the reason why the historic verdict to give the award jointly had been taken. “Like Colin Montgomerie when he was faced with the decision of who to select for his wild cards for The Ryder Cup, I think the panel faced the most difficult judgement call in the history of this award,” he said.
“It is an extraordinary move I know but one which we felt reflected an extraordinarily successful year for The European Tour and one which also properly honoured two men who are not only exceptional golfers, but who are also exceptional people and who both promoted European golf superbly in 2010.
“Both won their first Major Championships in 2010 and were part of a winning European Ryder Cup Team and, wherever you looked during the season they always seemed to be together at the head of affairs. Even their statistics show that while Martin narrowly shaded the Stroke Average Category by 70.04 to 70.07, in the Putts per Greens in Regulation Category, Graeme had the edge by 1.755 to 1.756.
“These margins are too close to differentiate one of these great golfers from another and it was fitting to see that they ended their season tied together in 13th place in the Dubai World Championship. They were side by side in the desert and the panel could not separate them so therefore they will stand side by side in the history books as winners of this prestigious award.”