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Christy O'Conner honoured by European Tour

Ireland's Christy O'Connor, widely regarded as one of the sport's greatest natural talents, has been given honorary life membership of the European Tour, the tour announced on Tuesday.

O'Connor won 24 European Tour titles, represented Britain and Ireland at 10 Ryder Cups and, partnered by his good friend Harry Bradshaw, won the 1958 World Cup for his country in Mexico City.

"It was a very pleasant surprise when I heard and it is a great honour," the 80-year-old Irishman said in a statement.

"We had a lot of special days but the highlights for me were winning the Ryder Cup in 1957 and the World Cup in 1958."

O'Connor overpowered Dow Finsterwald 7 & 6 in the last-day singles at the 1957 Ryder Cup in Lindrick, England where Britain triumphed by 7-1/2 points to 4-1/2 to end 24 years of American dominance in the biennial team competition.

A farmer's son who turned professional in 1946, O'Connor won the first 1,000 pounds ($1,882) cheque in European golf at the Penfold-Swallow tournament in 1955.

Fifteen years later, he captured the richest prize in the game with victory at the John Player Trophy, earning himself 25,000 pounds.

He has been described by six-times major winner Lee Trevino as one of the most natural players in history.

"To me, only three players have looked entirely natural swinging a golf club -- Christy, Roberto de Vicenzo and Neil Coles," said Trevino. "Christy flows through the ball like fine wine."

Scotland's John Panton, 88, was also given honorary life membership of the European Tour on Tuesday.

Panton, a veteran of three Ryder Cups, won the 1956 British Match Play Championship. In 1967, he beat Sam Snead 3 & 2 in the final of the World Seniors Championship at Wallasey.


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