Schwartzel and Kaymer Grab Top European Tour Honors
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

Schwartzel: the jacket fits!

With its flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, taking place this week and all four current major champions present, the European Tour doled out awards to Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer on Wednesday in Wentworth, England.

Schwartzel, who won the Masters last month, became the sixth South African to be granted honorary life membership of the European Tour.

“It is a great privilege to honor Charl in this way with the highest award we, as a tour, can bestow,” Tour chief executive George O’Grady said in a news release.

The seventh-ranked Schwartzel joined countrymen and fellow major winners Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Louis Oosthuizen as honorary life members.

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer, currently the third-ranked player in the world, was voted by his peers as the 2010 European Tour Players’ Player of the Year.

“What I achieved (last year) was unbelievable,” said Kaymer.

Kaymer won the ’10 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits to capture his first major title, along with three European Tour events.

“I have to thank Padraig Harrington for it. When he won the 2007 British Open and then two more majors in 2008 he gave Europeans the belief that we could win majors as well.”

Harrington, the inaugural recipient of the award after seizing his third major in 2008, inspired many young European golfers to reach for their dreams. Several weeks ago at The Players Championship, ’10 US Open champion Graeme McDowell credited Harrington’s influence for the recent phenomenon of Europeans leading the world rankings.

“I think when you see a guy like Padraig who we’ve all played alongside, we realize what’s possible through hard work and dedication to the game,” said McDowell at TPC Sawgrass. “I think Padraig was definitely a big inspiration for European golf.”