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Golf: Williams succeeds Coles as Chairman of European Tour

Businessman David Williams, 66, will take over as Chairman of The European Tour on January 1, succeeding former pro Neil Coles, who held the post for 38 years.

Businessman David Williams, 66, will take over as Chairman of The European Tour on January 1, succeeding former pro Neil Coles, who held the post for 38 years.

December 3, 2013: David Williams has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of The European Tour and will take office on January 1, 2014. Williams’ appointment follows May’s announcement that Neil Coles MBE would be stepping down from the role he has held for the past 38 years.


Unlike Coles, the 66-year-old Williams is not a former pro golfer and was chosen due to his strong commercial background.


Williams admitted he was excited to take up the responsibility of building on Coles’ legacy and further developing the Tour and its business activities around the world, with Asia hosting 11 events on the 2014 European Tour International Schedule.


“To follow in the footsteps of someone who has been as much of a figurehead as Neil Coles is a tremendous honour. The European Tour brand is strong and I will work with George O’Grady, his Executive team, the Players and the Board to take the organisation forward,” Williams said.


“In particular I’ll be looking to ensure that the Tour is structured in a way which enables it to further increase its expansion and appeal across the globe as well as working with the players and our business partners to promote long-term sustainable growth.”


Williams has led a wide range of public and private businesses over the last 35 years both as CEO and as Chairman. His posts have included senior roles at Whitbread Group, Diageo and PepsiCo Restaurants, Mothercare and Royal London Mutual Insurance Group.


The Englishman is currently Chair of the Operating Partners at Duke Street Capital and acts on the Boards of a number of businesses in this capacity. Williams has an MSc in Management from the London Business School, where he was a Governor.


David Jones, European Tour Board Director and Chairman of the Nomination Committee, explained the thinking behind Williams’ appointment.


“For the first time ever the Board and Players took the step of looking outside the ranks of professional golf for a Chairman,” Jones said. “In David Williams we have chosen a Chairman who brings a powerful business background to the European Tour. His strength of character and broad experience will be a huge asset for the Tour in developing our influence in the world of golf.”


George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “The Members have chosen David Williams as Chairman, as his management expertise, commercial experience and business credentials will give everyone – those within the Tour and those connected to us – great confidence. I am delighted to personally welcome David to the European Tour and look forward to working with him as we face our challenges both on the European and the global stage.”


Paul McGinley, the current European Ryder Cup Captain and a European Tour professional since 1992, was also keen to pay tribute to Williams’ predecessor.


“I would like to put on record my own appreciation for the tireless work done in the role by Neil Coles over the past 38 years,” McGinley said. “Everyone involved in golf has the utmost respect for what Neil achieved in the game, both on the golf course and in the boardroom, and we all wish him well in his retirement.”


Source: The European Tour

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