A new record prize fund of $7,000,000 – the largest to be contested on the continent of Europe – will be on offer when the World Golf Championships – American Express Championship returns to Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, next year.
Prize money will increase by $1,000,000 to $7,000,000 with a record first prize of $1,200,000 awaiting the champion over the superb Jack Nicklaus-designed course from 30th September – 3rd October.
The purse is $2,000,000 more than the total on offer at the inaugural WGC-American Express Championship at Club de Golf Valderrama in 1999 and an increase of $1,500,000 on the WGC-American Express Championship at Mount Juliet in 2002, when Tiger Woods captured the title and a winner’s cheque of $1,000,000.
It will be the fourth occasion that the WGC – American Express Championship is played in Europe. The first two editions in 1999 and 2000 were staged at Valderrama with Woods winning the inaugural event and Canadian Mike Weir capturing the title in 2000.
After the postponement of the 2001 event in the wake of the 11th September terrorist attacks in the United States, the 2002 Championship became the first to be held in Ireland when Woods triumphed for a second time in front of huge galleries at Mount Juliet.
Ken Schofield, executive director of The European Tour, said, “We are delighted that The WGC – American Express Championship is returning to Mount Juliet next year with an increased prize fund of $7,000,000 and a record first prize of $1,200,000.
“Last year we witnessed a wonderful event, with a truly international field competing over one of the leading courses in the country. The Championship field was one of the strongest in the world in 2002 with 49 out of the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking treating record crowds of over 120,000 to golf of the highest quality.”
John O‘Donoghue, T.D., Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism in Ireland, said, “I am delighted to welcome the renewed partnership between the International Sports Tourism Initiative, co-ordinated by Fà¡ilte Ireland, and the promoters of the WGC – American Express Golf Championship which will see the Championship played at Mount Juliet in 2004.
“By now, the success of the 2002 Championship has entered golfing folklore and remains a highpoint for all that attended. Even more important was the impact made by the magnificent images of Mount Juliet and Ireland carried by television networks throughout the world. Literally hundreds of millions of viewers tuned into golf in Ireland over those four days in September last year.
“The competition was carried coast to coast in the United States, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, Asia, Australia and South America, in fact, in all of our major tourism regions. Events such as this do much to enhance our reputation, not simply as a golfing destination, but as a quality tourism destination.
“The world tourism market is becoming increasingly competitive, and availing of the major tourism marketing opportunities provided by prestigious sporting events is a key element in our strategy to compete in this market. I can think of few more appropriate events to fit in with that strategy than the WGC – American Express Championship.”
Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Tim Mahony, chairman, Mount Juliet, said, “Naturally, we are looking forward to the challenge of again meeting those high standards. In this regard we have received tremendous encouragement from all involved, including The European Tour, the US PGA Tour, Fà¡ilte Ireland and, most importantly, of course, the man who designed Mount Juliet, Jack Nicklaus.
“We will again have the benefit of the advice of Jack and his team, regarding any suggestions he may have to further strengthen the challenge Mount Juliet will present to the world’s greatest players come September 2004.”
Mount Juliet is one of Europe’s great country estates situated in Co. Kilkenny, south east Ireland. Set amidst 1,500 acres of magnificent woodlands, it has at its heart a magnificent Manor House luxury hotel. Renowned through the centuries for its hunting and fishing, a completely new dimension was added in 1991 with the opening of the Jack Nicklaus designed Championship golf course.
Consistently voted Ireland’s number one parkland layout, the excellence of the course was quickly recognised when it was chosen to host the Irish Open in 1993 (winner Nick Faldo), 1994 (winner Bernhard Langer) and 1995 (winner Sam Torrance); The Shell Wonderful World of Golf in 1997 which featured Fred Couples and Tom Watson and the Irish Seniors Open in 1999 (winner John Morgan).
The WGC – American Express Championship is one of four World Golf Championships sanctioned and organised by the International Federation of PGA Tours which comprises the Asian PGA, The European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, US PGA Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and Southern Africa Tour.
The International Federation of PGA Tours, the governing body of the world’s leading professional golf tours and the sanctioning and organising body of the World Golf Championships, was formed in 1996 to work towards the common interest of internationalising the game of golf. To that end, one of the key initiatives is to create and sanction world-class competitions for the game’s foremost international players. The World Golf Championships are a result of that initiative.
This year marks the fourth playing of the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship. The American Express Championship is one of four World Golf Championships, which are sanctioned and organised by the International Federation of PGA Tours. The other World Golf Championships include the Accenture Match Play Championship, NEC Invitational and The World Cup.
American Express Company www.americanexpress.com.