More than 5,000 spectators turned out to watch the inaugural Lough Erne Challenge between three time Major Champion Padraig Harrington and Lough Erne’s 20 year old touring professional Rory McIlroy, over the newly opened Faldo Course last week.
This was the first time Ireland’s world class players had competed in a professional event in Northern Ireland and it was McIlroy who proved triumphant in this opening event, with a course record of 68 over Harrington’s round of 70. The current Dubai Desert Champion picked up a cheque for €200,000 and the specially commissioned Belleek Trophy for the first time.
Following his round over the much talked about 7,167 yard Faldo Course, the World No.26 McIlroy commented: “Northern Ireland is really crying out for a European Tour event and Lough Erne is set up so well for tournament golf. The course has come on really well since I was last here and it was great to see so many local people out there supporting us”.
Harrington was equally complimentary on his first visit to the Fermanagh Resort: “It really is a hidden gem in a a beautiful area and when you get the weather you couldn’t wish for a better place in the world. It more than exceeds the requirements of a European Tour venue and it was a joy to play. I am very impressed with the number of greens in front of the hotel and lodges which leads to a great atmosphere and stadium finish”.
The Lough Erne Challenge marked the official opening of The Faldo Course widely regarded as Ireland’s newest golfing masterpiece. Created by six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo, the Par 72 course is set on a breathtaking peninsula between Lower Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough, and is already being earmarked as an obvious venue for future prestigious European Tour events.
Tee times can now be booked on line with green fees starting from £80.
Lough Erne Golf Resort www.loughernegolfresort.com