O’Grady preparing to step down

The European Tour says the search has begun to find a replacement for its long-standing chief executive George O’Grady.

The 65-year-old confirmed on Wednesday that he has asked the board of directors to begin the process to appoint his successor.

“In the aftermath of what I believe to have been the best presented Ryder Cup since my first involvement in the contest at Royal Lytham in 1977, I felt this was the right time to ask the board to begin the search for my successor,” O’Grady said in a statement.

“It is my firm belief that, coming towards the end of what has been another incredibly successful season, we are now seeing the green shoots of recovery across Europe and I am pleased that this coincides with all our building blocks, in terms of key television and sponsorship contracts, being in place.”

O’Grady is only the third man to hold the position of chief executive, and has been with the Tour for more than 40 years.

He assumed his present role on January 1, 2005, succeeding John Jacobs – who led the Tour’s formative years from 1971 to 1974 – and Ken Schofield, who took over on January 1, 1975.

He will remain in his role until that successor is found.

Speaking about O’Grady’s contribution to the Tour over the past 40 years, chairman David Williams said: “On behalf of the board and all of the members of the European Tour I would like to thank George for his contribution to the European Tour and professional golf generally over the last 40 years.

“The European Tour and its players are admired throughout the world of golf and George has played a key part in building global relationships and developing the Tour. He has always respected the traditions of the tour and built on the strong foundations put in place by John Jacobs, Neil Coles and Ken Schofield.

“The Tour is now embarking on a new phase in its development and that is why George has considered that it is the right time to ask the nominations committee to find his successor.”