Charl Schwartzel lapped up the adulation together with the other three holders of major championship titles as he was given honorary life membership of the European Tour on Wednesday.
Schwartzel joined US Open champion Graeme McDowell, PGA champion Martin Kaymer and Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in celebrating a superb year for European golf ahead of the BMW PGA Championship starting on Thursday at Wentworth.
The evening began with Retief Goosen and Oosthuizen presenting Schwartzel, wearing his green jacket, with honorary life membership in recognition of his Masters triumph.
Evaluating EuropeÂs position in the world order, Schwartzel said: ÂAmericaÂs been dominant for a long time. And the European golf is so strong, I donÂt think that’s any surprise. I think world golf is getting stronger, and at the end of the day, America is a big place. But the world is slightly bigger.Â
McDowell collected the Shot of the Year trophy from 2010 European Ryder Cup captain >b>Colin Montgomerie for his memorable putt on the 16th green at Celtic Manor and the players in return presented Montgomerie with their own token of thanks for his leadership.
Kaymer and McDowell returned to the stage to present Matteo Manassero with the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award before world number one, Lee Westwood, presented the big award of the night, the PlayersÂ Player of the Year Award to Kaymer.
Schwartzel looked back on starting his career on the European Tour: ÂI think if you want to call yourself a world golfer, you definitely have to test yourself everywhere.
ÂI think if I was playing for $6-million on my doorstep every week, it would be difficult to leave; youÂll keep playing there.
ÂBut as a South African, I had to make up my mind and I wanted to come to Europe. This is where I wanted to start,Â he said.
He looked ahead to the remaining majors, summing up his chances in them: ÂI always thought the US Open would be one that I could win. I play well around tough courses, ones that you have to work hard to make pars. So I am looking forward to the US Open.
ÂThe Open, 2003, I didn’t do well at Royal St. GeorgeÂs. But then in 2002, the course right next door to Royal St. George’s, I won the English Open Stroke Play Championships.
ÂI have no idea what Atlanta Athletic Club, where the PGA Championship is played, looks like. If you were to ask me one, I would say maybe the US Open would be one where I could contend,Â he said.
He could also contend around Wentworth Â the European TourÂs version of the Âfifth majorÂ.