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Ivor Robson, voice of the British Open as longtime starter, dead at 83

Ivor Robson, with Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler

Ivor Robson, the longtime starter at the British Open known for his distinctive voice, has died at the age of 83.

From Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, from Arnold Palmer to Seve Ballesteros, from Tom Watson to Rory McIlroy, he sent them on their way to glory, introducing players in his familiar fashion, beginning with “Now on the tee,” followed by the name of the player. He also famously never took a bathroom break between the first tee time and the last.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Ivor’s passing,” said Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A. “As official starter at The Open for over 40 years, his voice was instantly recognizable 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 and I know that they will share in our sadness at this news. On behalf of all of us at The R&A, I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to his wife of 61 years, Lesley, and the Robson family.”

It was in 2015 when he announced his retirement, working the British Open at St. Andrews for the final time, before making his final announcements when the curtain came down on the DP World Tour season in Dubai in November 2015.

“I feel you can’t go on forever and if you’re going to step off there’s no better place to do it than here. I’ve had some nice ones but this is special, St Andrews. It is just magnificent,” he said at the time.

“It has been a wonderful career. It’s been a great honor. The way I have been treated by players, officials, sponsors … thank you all very much.”

Ivor Robson, with Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler at the first tee.

Robson also served for over 40 years as the DP World Tour’s official starter with his “on the tee” message delivered in his brogue at famous golf venues around the globe.

A resident of Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway, Robson was born in England in 1940 and began his remarkable career at the 1975 British Open at Carnoustie. He went on to earn the admiration of the best players in the world, sending players off from the first tee with his famous words and a hearty grin.

“To the professionals, it has been great fun being here with you,” he added in 2015. “We have had lots of banter and it has been wonderful. You are a credit to the professional game. And to the spectators, thank you for your wonderful support over the years.”

Looking back to his Open career, he added, “It is a great…


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