BBC presenter Hazel Irvine has confirmed that she is to step down from fronting the corporation’s golf coverage.
A key figure on the BBC’s golf presentation team for 25 years and lead anchor since 2010, Irvine will present her final tournament in April at the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta, with Eilidh Barbour confirmed as her replacement.
She will continue to present snooker and major events, such as Olympic Games, for the BBC after signed a new long-term contract with the corporation and will be back fronting the World Snooker Championship, which follows the Masters in mid-April.
On her decision to leave BBC’s golf coverage after more than two decades, Irvine told the BBC:
“In 2016 I was pleased to be offered another long-term contract with BBC Sport to continue presenting snooker, golf and Major Events in 2017 and beyond.
“However, after much thought, I have decided that in what is my 30th year in broadcast sport, I want to re-align my on-air commitments around the changing needs of my family.
“So, I agreed to continue with my anchor roles on snooker and Major Events. I also decided that after 25 years of golf presentation with BBC Sport, I would now like to pass this baton on to someone else.
“I have loved working with my brilliant friends and colleagues on the BBC golf team. But for the time being, this decision will work better for my family and me.
“I’m looking forward to being in Augusta to see Danny Willett defend his title and to savouring the unique atmosphere of the Masters one more time.”
Irvine took over from Gary Lineker as the BBC’s lead golf presenter in 2010 after he decided to step down to focus on his football commitments, following critical press reviews for his four-year stint as anchor following the departure of Steve Rider.
In addition to golf, Irvine has been a familiar face across a variety of sports and major events in her 27-year career at the corporation, including fronting iconic programmes such as Grandstand and Ski Sunday.
She will continue to play a key role in the BBC’s presentation team at future Olympics and Commonwealth Games, as well as snooker coverage.
Eilidh Barbour has been announced as Irvine’s replacement and will take over as BBC TV’s golf presenter in May, starting with the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
A presenter and reporter on a range of BBC football output – including FA Cup, Football Focus, MOTD2 Extra, Final Score, Barbour has also fronted the BBC’s Women’s Six Nations output as well as working on the radio coverage for golf and rugby.
Commenting on her successor as BBC golf presenter, Irvine said:
“I am delighted that a fellow Scot, Eilidh Barbour, will be given this chance. Eilidh wrote to me when she was a teenager asking for advice about how to get into broadcasting. Happily I wrote back!
“Many years later we met when she appeared as an assistant producer on the snooker production team with IMG Scotland. We’ve worked together often since then.
“She is a lovely, unaffected person and an extremely capable broadcaster. Over the last few weeks I have been working with her to help prepare Eilidh for her new role. I’m sure that she will enjoy it as much as I have.”
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, added:
“It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Hazel having been the familiar face of the sport for 25 years.
“However, we respect her decision and look forward to her continuing to front our snooker and major events coverage for many more years to come.”
Irvine’s final event as BBC golf presenter will be at the Masters Tournament, which now provides the BBC’s only live golf coverage across the calendar year, with live rights to all other majors and UK-staged tournaments, including The Open, held by Sky Sports.
The corporation will however screen free-to-air highlights of the Wentworth PGA Championship, Scottish Open, The Open Championship and the Women’s British Open in 2017.
Hazel is the standard I aspire to emulate. A huge inspiration to me personally. To follow her is a dream come true https://t.co/p3wnWPbVdx
— Eilidh Barbour (@EilidhBarbour) March 29, 2017