Irish golf’s biggest stars will be to the fore when the 2014 Irish Open takes place at Fota Island Resort from 19th – 22nd June, in front of an expected attendance of over 100,000 in what promises to be an unforgettable festival of golf.
Major champions Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke along with European Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley, and 2009 winner Shane Lowry will form part of an elite home challenge.
They will be joined by a quality field of previous European Tour winners and upcoming stars including young Italian superstar, 21-year-old Matteo Manassero, a four-time winner on the European Tour, who will make his third appearance at the Irish Open this year. Manassero will be expecting some Irish support with his caddie, Dave McNeilly coming from Belfast and having worked for three-time Major Champion, Pádraig Harrington.
The Europeans will be joined on course by the USA’s John Daly, who will bring his own inimitable style and colour to the event as the group chases a share in the €2m prize fund and the much -coveted Irish Open trophy. England’s Paul Casey is set to make a return visit to Ireland to defend his 2013 title, but the Irish contingent is expected to be on top form and hungry to add to the four Championship titles on home turf in 40 years.*
The players will face a stern test on the Jeff Howes-designed Deerpark course and with precious Ryder Cup points on the line, the event promises to be one of the most competitive on this year’s European Tour International Schedule. The 2014 tournament will be broadcast live from the picturesque Fota Island Resort to an estimated global audience of 400 million.
Since the Irish Open was played at Fota Island Resort in 2001 and 2002, the course has undergone extensive changes. Most recently, five tees have been extended, bringing the course to 7043 yards but it can feel much longer due to the five par threes.
The most significant change, however, and what will likely prove to be the legacy change for Fota Island Resort, is the dramatic adaptation made to the sixth. Working with the existing landscape, a new tee box has been created, with a spectacular 200-yard carry over a sea wall and the sea.
Although the green is visible, it is a blind shot into the landing area, so if conditions are right the Tour’s longer hitters might take it on and try to chase it up onto the green, but even then they will be facing into a tricky, two-tiered green.
“We are very proud to welcome the Irish Open back to East Cork and Fota Island Resort” said Jonathan Woods, CEO of Fota Island Resort. “Our team has been working hard in preparation across every aspect of the Resort, both on and off the course. The course itself has never looked better.
“We’ve made some bold changes and many subtle ones in preparation for the return of the tournament, and in the new layout at the sixth we have created something dramatic, challenging and visually stunning that I believe will become our new signature hole. We look forward to welcoming the players, spectators and television viewers to experience what this great golf course can offer”.
Looking forward to the 2014 event, Antonia Beggs, Championship Director of the Irish Open said; “The Irish Open has taken on a new lease of life in the last number of years, with our decision to rotate between breath-taking courses North and South of the border proving hugely popular with spectators.
“This year, we are delighted to be heading south to Cork and the pristine surrounds of Fota Island Resort to which we are returning for the third time in the tournament’s 87 year history. It’s thrilling for The European Tour and spectators alike that all of Ireland’s leading golfers are once again supporting their national tournament and their presence and that of a number of previous and potential Ryder Cup team members solidifies the tournament’s status as one of the most prestigious on The European Tour’s Race to Dubai.”
Explaining the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into staging the event, Beggs continued, “The Irish Open would not be the showcase of Irish and European golf it is without the generous support of our corporate partners and I would like to acknowledge the part they play in bringing the tournament to fruition. In addition, it takes a team of over 1,600 people to deliver an event of this scale and quality and in fact, we already have staff on site since the beginning of May, preparing for the anticipated 100,000 plus spectators we expect to welcome over the four days.
“We also hope to see a great turn out for the Pro Am on June 18, when visitors can get up close and personal with the Tour players along with some well known celebrities.”
Tony Lenehan, Head of Golf Tourism with Failte Ireland, the long-term major supporter of the Irish Open, welcomed the event’s return to Cork and commented: “The Irish Open allows us to showcase everything that is good about the golf product to the domestic and international markets.
“The overseas media reach of the Irish Open is not to be under-estimated with over 1400 hours of international media coverage in over 110 territories. International broadcast of the Irish Open will contribute handsomely to our strategic plans to promote Ireland as a golfing destination in new and emerging markets.”
The 2014 Irish Open is organised by the European Tour and kindly supported by Failte Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Bam Contractors, BMW, Emirates, Fota Island Resort, Heineken, Irish Examiner and West Coast.
Fota Island Resort www.fotaisland.ie
Irish Open www.irishopen.ie