George O’Grady plans to step down as chief executive of the European Tour, saying in a statement that after 10 years it is the “right time” to move on.
The tour’s board of directors will begin the search for a successor immediately.
“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 shots 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.”
For the Record: George O'Grady (Originally ran May 13)
O’Grady, 65, has been with the European Tour for more than 40 years and is just the circuit’s third chief executive, following the tenures of John Jacobs (1971-75) and Ken Schofield (1975-2004).
Since 2005, O’Grady has been a central figure in creating the season-long Race to Dubai, sending the tour to growing markets like Asia and the Middle East, growing the Ryder Cup and bringing golf back to the Olympics Games beginning in 2016.
O'Grady had planned to make an announcement at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later this month, but decided to do so now because of “recent media speculation.” He intends to continue as president of international relations and will represent the tour through the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“George’s true measure as a leader is reflected in the fact that he leaves the European Tour in a vastly better position than when he began his tenure,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “All of us at the PGA Tour wish George and the European Tour well in accomplishing a smooth transition.”
The nominations committee, chaired by David Jones, is in charge of appointing O’Grady’s successor. There is no timetable for that decision.
“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,” said European Tour chairman David Williams. “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.”