England’s Paul Casey has won the prestigious European Tour Golfer of the Year award for 2006 after it was announced that he had beaten off the challenge of a host of big names at the European Tour lunch in London on Tuesday.

Several famous faces from the world of golf were present at the Royal Lancaster hotel, including 2008 Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo and our very own editor. Faldo praised Casey in his speech and also said that the amount of players running him close for this year’s award proved that the European Tour is in rude health.

The 29 year-old, who was born in Cheltenham, won three European Tour events in 2006. The highlight was probably his win in the HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth in September, where he beat America’s Shawn Micheel 10&8 in the final – a record margin of victory. He led the race for the European Tour’s Order of Merit title after that right up until the final event of the season when he was overtaken dramatically by Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.

However, Casey’s fondest memory of 2006 and the one he is most remembered for is probably his hole-in-one on the 14th at the K Club during the Ryder Cup – a shot that enabled him and foursomes partner David Howell to clinch a crucial Saturday point for Europe, helping them towards another big margin victory over the USA.