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Peter Mitchell retires from pro golf

England's Peter Mitchell has decided to retire from competitive golf after 27 years in the professional game.

The Kent-based player, who won three times on the European Tour between 1992 and 1998, said he made the decision after his father-in-law Les Balchin died in July this year.

"I was very close to Les, he was like a dad to me and we used to work together on my swing quite a lot," Mitchell told Reuters on Wednesday.

"Sadly Les passed away when I was playing in the Irish Open. I knew at the time I would eventually call it a day and I did not play again for another nine weeks.

"My priorities have now changed and I want to stay closer to my family."

Mitchell, 43, failed to qualify for the 2002 European Tour and now plans to pursue a career in coaching.

He has already been working with England's Van Phillips and Dutchman Rolf Muntz.

Renowned for painting the names of his three children on his golf balls for identification, Mitchell turned professional in 1974 and spent four years as a club pro before becoming a tour regular in Europe.

Although he had to make six visits in 10 years to the European Tour qualifying school, Mitchell won three times in Europe -- at the 1992 Austrian Open, the 1997 Madeira Island Open and the 1998 Portuguese Open.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, those three wins are the highlights of my career," he said.

"To finish first at the end of the week when you've set yourself up to do it is a fantastic feeling.

"We play something like 20 to 30 weeks each year and, if you do manage to win a tournament, you deserve to pat yourself on the back."

Mitchell finished the 2001 season 123rd on the European Tour order of merit, with a highest placing of joint fifth in the Spanish Open.

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