With the distinctive words, “On the tee from England, Andy Sullivan”, the curtain came down on the career as Ivor Robson, Official Starter to The European Tour and The Open for the past 41 years, retired.
Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan were the last of 60 professionals to be sent on their way for the final round of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates and as such, the final pairing to be announced by Ivor. There to witness the end of an era were players, caddies, colleagues and fans, with the occasion marked with presentations from The European Tour and the players themselves.
In presenting an engraved salver, Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “I have been here for the last five hours and seen the admiration of every single player – every single player has saluted Ivor. For 41 years, from Carnoustie in 1975, it has been a privilege to see how people have treated you. The players have come back to see you again and you will be missed. We wish you all the best in your retirement. On behalf of The European Tour, thank you and congratulations.”
Henrik Stenson, representing the players alongside Justin Rose, David Howell, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Scott Hend, Fabrizio Zanotti and Raphael Jacquelin, paid tribute to the man who has seen them all off throughout their careers as he presented a painting of Ivor on the first tee.
“Ivor, 41 years, magnificent,” he said. “From all the players and the few here who have made it back here on time, thank you for a long, long time of loyal service and we hope to see you outside the ropes sometime.”
The last word, fittingly came from Ivor himself. “It has been a wonderful career,” he said. “It’s been a great honour to have been allowed to be the Official Starter for The European Tour. The way I have been treated by players, officials, sponsors, in particular Rolex, thank you all very much. To the professionals, it has been great fun being here with you. We have had lots of banter and it has been wonderful. You are a credit to the professional game gentlemen. And to the spectators, thank you for your wonderful support over the years. Thank you.”
And with that, Ivor was no longer, “On the tee.”