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Whatmakesus different? Working on the farm he had

been lucky to get in 27 holes a week. Touring round in his van he could practice four hours a day and become a professional.

soccer, badminton, table tennis or golf. Golf he played at Llanmynech Golf Club where 15 of the holes were in Wales and three in England. At 14 he had the choice of playing football in a county team or playing golf. He chose golf, a decision he now describes in somewhat of an understatement as ‘a wise move really’.

While being naturally gifted, playing golf and making money out of it were poles apart in the early days, but commitment and perseverance eventually paid off handsomely. After five years travelling Europe in a campervan and living largely off baked beans, Ian started to climb the golfing ladder to stardom.

‘You could travel around the tournaments in a campervan in those days,’ Ian remembers. ‘It was different then because you could tour around Spain and Portugal and then move on into France. Today you’re in Dubai one minute and Germany the next. In those days we could park the van at the golf club and get in plenty of practice.’

Working on the farm he had been lucky to get in 27 holes a week. Touring round in his van he could practice four hours a day and become a professional.

‘I didn’t want to be a farmer for the rest of my life, and that was sufficient inspiration to keep me practicing.’

That practicing soon began to pay big dividends and Ian has now won more tournaments than any other contemporary British golfer. Not only that, but he was the first golfer in history to earn £1m prize money in a single year. He was also ranked number one in the world for a record

51 weeks following his first Major win in the US Masters in 1991 and he represented Europe for an 8th consecutive time in the 1997 Ryder Cup. More recently, he successfully captained Europe to a record equalling victory at the Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland in 2006.

‘Winning the Masters was probably my finest achievement, although being ranked Number One as the best player on the planet for more than 50 weeks was also pretty special,’ he said.

‘I think that was quite an achievement for a farmer’s boy from a little village.’

Ian admits that he had to ‘work his socks off’ to win the Masters but he was lucky enough to become World Number One in the week of the Masters and followed that with being Ryder Cup captain, which he now describes as the icing on the cake. He received plenty of honours on the way, with the Queen herself presenting him with his OBE in 2007, and Prince Charles presenting him with his MBE.

Now at 52, Ian looks back and wonders how he played so well. It looked easy at the time because of his natural talent, but now it’s harder work even though he is still a winner.

For example, in his rookie year on the Senior Tour in 2008, he earned more than €320,000 to win the John Jacobs Trophy. He was also just pipped at the

post by his old friend Sam Torrance in 2009 when he defended the European Senior Tour Order of Merit crown.

All Ian’s golfing success has been despite fairly severe health problems, and it has also required some sacrifices. His one big regret in life is that all of the chasing around the world playing golf, has meant that he had less time to spend with his wife and family. It’s a help that he has his own aircraft which, contrary to rumour, he doesn’t fly himself.

‘When you’ve just finished a tournament and you’ve been working hard all week, you don’t want to be flying your own plane,’ he said. ‘So I just sit in the back and pay a pilot to do the job.’

But he still can’t get back to his Jersey home as quickly or as often as he would like.

‘I wish I had been able to spend more time with the family and been with them a little more. I achieved what I wanted with golf, but it would have been nice if I could have been home more to see the kids play football, or see them at school and be with them.’

That’s perhaps the price you have to pay for being a highly successful golfer. But on the other hand, the achievements have been great and the plucky golfer from Oswestry had been an inspiration to many.

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