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The PGA has paid tribute to its “hugely popular” former chief executive Sandy Jones, who has passed away.

Jones spent nearly four decades with the organisation, leading it for a quarter of a century. He was also key in turning the Ryder Cup into one of the world’s top sporting events and was a pivotal figure involved in charities linked to the game.

“This is a very sad day for the association,” said current PGA CEO Robert Maxfield.

“Sandy led the PGA for more than 25 years, instigating significant change and improvement to the way the association was run.

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“Through his work with the Ryder Cup, the PGA World Alliance and the PGAs of Europe, he was a significant figure in world golf as well in Great Britain and Ireland.

“He was respected and admired by many and the association owes him a huge debt of gratitude.”

Jones’ association with the PGA began in 1980 when he was appointed regional secretary for Scotland. 11 years later he was appointed chief executive.

In addition to his role at the PGA he was also president of the Golf Foundation and chaired the Ryder Cup trust.

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The PGA described him as “pivotal” in developing the tournament, while he also introduced a charitable arm to allow revenues from the event to benefit the game.

Reacting to the news, former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn described Jones as a “great man for golf” and an “integral part” of the tournament.

Meanwhile broadcaster Dougie Donnelly paid tribute to his “great friend”, who he hailed as a “wonderful servant to golf for many years”.

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