Scottish Daily Mail

Tiger leads tributes to Ivor, voice of The Open


THERE can be few golfers up and down the fairways of this land who have not watched a friend waggle over their opening shot, taken a deep breath and declared: ‘On the tee...’

Such is the influence of Ivor Robson, the long-time starter and voice of The Open, who has died at the age of 83.

Robson set nearly 19,000 golfers on their way across 41 Championsh­ips, from his maiden tournament at Carnoustie in 1975, when Tom Watson lifted the Claret Jug, until his last, won by Zach Johnson, on the Old Course at St Andrews in 2015.

From Tiger Woods to Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballestero­s to Sir Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy to unknown amateurs, each player was introduced in Robson’s distinctiv­e, now iconic tone.

It didn’t matter what name graced the bag. He treated them all the same.

‘Thank you, Ivor, for making each one of my Open starts so memorable,’ said Woods as he led the tributes yesterday.

Robson famously never missed a tee time and, despite often being on the tee from before 6.30am until past 4pm, he refused to take a toilet break. He chose not to eat or drink so nature had no time to call.

He was born in England in 1940 but lived most of his life in his beloved Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway.

‘It’s been a great honour, really, to have been allowed to have the role for 41 years as official starter for the greatest championsh­ip in the world,’ said Robson in 2014. ‘There have been so many memorable moments when you meet the greats: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson. Yeah, we had some nice memories.’

A quiet and private man, for more than 40 years, he also acted as the DP World Tour’s official starter. Even the pros often attempted — and failed — to imitate Robson’s famous delivery.

Robson called all five of Watson’s Open wins, so it was fitting that the 2015 Championsh­ip at St Andrews would prove to be the last for both men. That Robson’s farewell was just as emotional an occasion for players and fans showed the mark he had left on the game.

Watson presented Robson with an 18th flag bearing the message: ‘We have travelled this long road together.’ Robson was also awarded a Claret Jug of his own.

The honour of being the final player to be introduced at the first tee belonged to Irish golfer Paul Dunne.

‘I grew up dreaming of it and it became my proudest moment, hearing my name announced by Ivor,’ wrote Dunne. ‘A sad day for golf losing a legend.’

Robson’s friendly charm not only won the affection of golfers across the world but proved a calming influence for all those nervously hoping to become the champion golfer of the year.

‘Always got to the tee a minute or two early to have a chat with Ivor,’ said 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman. ‘The voice of The Open.’

Luke Donald, who led Europe to their stunning Ryder Cup triumph just over a fortnight ago, also paid tribute. ‘A gentleman with a unique voice that set us off on our journeys,’ he wrote. ‘Thank you for your dedication to our beautiful sport.’

Donald’s fellow Ryder Cup-winning player and captain Paul McGinley said: ‘So sad to hear of Ivor Robson’s passing. The most famous and popular first-tee starter golf has ever had. His legacy will be that iconic and quintessen­tial British voice of his.’

FOR so many golfing greats, their memories of Robson on the first tee were special. ‘I’ve never seen someone take pride in their job like he did,’ said 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell. ‘One of the coolest moments of my career was having him announce me on the tee as the US Open champ and also the Scottish Open after I won at Pebble.’ Ian Poulter added: ‘You sadly left us but your voice and happiness hasn’t. RIP my friend. Firsttee memories will last forever.’

Sky Sports pundit Andrew Coltart wrote: ‘Very sad to hear of the passing of the wonderful Ivor Robson, honorary starter on the DPWT for over 40 years. The epitome of profession­alism who always brought a sense of calm at an unnerving time. Lovely man, friend of everyone on the tour. You will be missed Ivor x RIP.’

Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, who organise The Open, said: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear of Ivor’s passing.

‘As official starter at The Open for over 40 years, his voice was instantly recognisab­le and synonymous with the Championsh­ip for players and millions of golf fans worldwide. He was popular and well respected among all golfers who played in The Open.’

 ?? ?? True legend: Robson shakes hands with Woods at the 2014 Open
True legend: Robson shakes hands with Woods at the 2014 Open

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