Sergio Garcia, the reigning Masters Champion, has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour in recognition of his triumph at Augusta National in April.
The 13-time European Tour winner becomes the 53nd player to be added to the exclusive list and is just the third Spaniard to receive the accolade, after Seve Ballesteros (1983) and José María Olazábal (1994).
The 37 year old was presented with the award by European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley during Real Club Valderrama’s President’s Dinner at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, where he entered the weekend in contention for a 14th title.
Garcia sealed his maiden Major Championship title in thrilling fashion in Georgia, overcoming his four-time Ryder Cup team mate Justin Rose on the first play-off hole after they matched each other in the final round with rounds of 69, having shared the third round lead.
His victory was widely celebrated 18 years after he first broke onto the scene as a precocious teenager. He turned professional after being the only amateur to make the cut at the 1999 Masters, and three months later won his first European Tour title at the Irish Open. He then played a starring role at the US PGA Championship in August of that year before making his Ryder Cup debut in September.
Garcia currently has 31 professional victories to his name, including ten on the US PGA Tour and five on the Asian Tour, while he has made eight appearances in The Ryder Cup, contributing to five European victories and racking up a points total of 22.5.
“This is an incredible honour for me,” said Garcia. “To join Seve and José María on the list of Honorary Members for the European Tour is very special and adds to what has already been a life-changing year for me, on and off the course.
“I have always loved playing on the European Tour and I have had so many unforgettable moments there, while there is no more special privilege than representing Europe in The Ryder Cup. I am humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Seve, José María and the other great players on this list and it is a very special moment for me.”
Keith Pelley said: Keith Pelley said: “It is an absolute privilege to present Sergio Garcia with Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour. The world of golf rejoiced at his Masters triumph in April and this week, where he is the host of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, is the perfect setting to commemorate that victory.”
Garcia was also presented with Honorary Life Membership of Real Club Valderrama by the club’s president Nuno De Brito De Cunha.