England and Wales (North) Region
19 Jan 18
Bob Wilkinson (right) is pictured with (from left) Wayne Westner, tournament winner Greg Norman and Ernie Els following the 1994 Dubai Desert Classic
Bob Wilkinson, the first secretary of the PGA’s North region, has passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
He joined The PGA in 1977 and, following his stint in the North, had a brief spell in the national tournament department two years later before joining the EGP Sports Group.
His role there included the promotion of the Lawrence Batley International and led to an association with the organisation that lasted until last year when he was still running its events for amateur golfers older than 80.
Bob was also involved in the creation of the European Senior tour and his relationship with Lawrence Batley was instrumental in them sponsoring a tournament, the Lawrence Batley Seniors from 1992 – 2002.
He also played a key role in helping take the European Tour outside the boundaries of Europe with the Dubai Desert Classic, where he was tournament director from its first staging in 1989 until he retired in 2002.
Recalling Bob’s part in the establishing the tournament and its increasing success, Nick Tarrant, director, European Tour Dubai office, said: “He was involved from day one and was never shy to make the tough decisions that were right for the tournament.
“I first met Bob in the early 1980’s when he was working with EGP and my long association with him continued when I moved to Dubai in 1990.
“He was always hugely hard working and always over delivered in everything he did.
“The tournament would not be where it is today were it not for Bob’s efforts, particularly around the participation of Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods for the first time in 2001, which took the event to the next level on the world’s golfing and sporting map.
“We will certainly raise a glass to Bob and toast his memory in a couple of weeks’ time amongst many of his old friends at the Emirates Golf Club. I learned so much from him and will always remember him fondly.”
Mike Stewart, senior tournament director at the European Tour and tournament director of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, added: “I had the honour and privilege to work with Bob Wilkinson on the tournament in 1989 and for many years thereafter.
“Without question, the early years were memorable, and I am proud to have been part of the team that helped get the tournament off the ground.
“Bob’s input was massive, and I doubt if it would have developed so well and become what it is today without his careful guidance - not to mention the contribution from his wife Jo who was always there by his side to help keep him on the right track.
“Bob’s steely determination to get things right, coupled with a great work ethic helped him to deliver many memorable tournaments. He was passionate about what he did and cared so much about those around him as well the tournament itself.
“I hope that others will remember and appreciate his significant contribution as I do. For me the tournament is synonymous with Bob Wilkinson and whenever I hark back to our pioneering days in the desert I will always do so with a smile on my face.”
Bob, who died on January 7, is survived by his wife Jo, daughter Natalie and son Lee, who is head of scoring and information services for the European Tour.
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