By Steve Douglas, AP Game writer
Peter Ellis, who became the cynical “Voice of Golf” on British television after a playing career in which he competed in eight Ryder Cups and was Europe’s best golfer for two seasons, has passed away. He was 89.
“Peter’s death was unexpected but peaceful,” the family said in a statement through the BBC, where he worked. It does not provide the cause of death.
Ellis won 23 tournaments worldwide in a professional career that ended in 1974 and was the Warden Trophy winner – for the leading player on the British PGA, the forerunner of the European tour – in 1964 and ’66. He played for Britain and Ireland in their first Ryder Cup in 1953 and then in every match from 1957–1969, and represented England 10 times in the World Cup of Golf.
Allen became a member of the Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Peter made an indelible impression on everything we did in our game,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, but especially as a player and a broadcaster, and he leaves a notable legacy. Our thoughts are with his wife Jackie and a family of friends. “
With his deep and soothing voice, warm humor and passion for golf, Ellis can become more famous as a commentator than a player. Golf Digest once called Allen “the greatest golf commentator”.
Ellis made his debut as part of the BBC team covering the British Open at Royal Birkdale in 1961 and became the main commentator of the British Channel in 1978. He also called big tournaments in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Among his many funny one-liners, this classic was from 2002 when Tiger Woods shot 81 at the British Open: “It’s like turning to listen to Pawarotti and finding out that he has laryngitis.”
Ellis wrote several books and co-designed more than 50 courses, including The Belfry, hosting the Ryder Cup in 1985, 1989, 1993 and 2002.
Born in Berlin in 1931, Ellis was the son of British professional golfer Percy Ellis, one of Britain’s top players in the 1920s and ’30s. The Allisars are one of only two father-son duos to play in the Raider Cup, along with Spain’s Antonio and Ignacio Garrido.
“No one told the golf story like Peter Ellis,” said BBC Director General Tim Davey. He captured the drama of golf with insight, wisdom and humanity. He was a great commentator who brought the sport to life for millions of us. “
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