An impressive international field comprising seven Major Champions and players from 23 different nations will gather at Fota Island Resort, in Co. Cork, for the 2014 Irish Open, from June 19-22.
The tournament takes place the week after the US Open Championship at Pinehurst and will, of course, include two former US Open champions in Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, as well as fellow Major winners Darren Clarke, John Daly, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie and José María Olazábal. Together they have amassed 12 Major Championship between them, bringing a wealth of quality and experience to Cork when the tournament visits Fota Island for the first time in 12 years.
There will also be 14 players in the field who have represented Europe in The Ryder Cup, including Englishman Paul Casey who defends the title he won by three strokes at Carton House 12 months ago, and Dane Søren Hansen, champion when the tournament last visited Fota Island in 2002.
With entries now closed for the tournament, the field also includes France’s Victor Dubuisson and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, the two players who finished runner-up to Thongchai Jaidee after a play-off in last week’s Nordea Masters.
Gallacher, who successfully defended his title in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, and Dubuisson, the finalist in the WGC- Accenture Match Play, are joined in the €2million event by another Ryder Cup hopeful, Dutchman Joost Luiten, the defending champion in this week’s Lyoness Open presented by Greenfinity, who is also currently ranked inside the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
All three will be under the watchful eye of Irishman Paul McGinley, Ireland’s first Ryder Cup captain, who can be assured a passionate send-off from the Cork galleries as he makes his last appearance on home soil before leading Europe at Gleneagles in September.
There are ten players in the field who have already tasted success so far on The 2014 European Tour Race to Dubai, with Morten Ørum Madsen, Pabalo Larrazábal, Ross Fisher, Alejandro Cañizares, Marco Crespi, Alexander Levy, Felipe Aguilar and Daniel Brooks joining McIlroy and Gallacher.
Larrazábal and Cañizares, along with Olazábal, are part of a strong looking Spanish challenge, which also includes Rafa Cabrera-Bello, the two-time European Tour champion, and big-hitting Alvaro Quiros, who will be seeking a seventh European Tour title having finished tied fifth at Carton House last year.
Italian Matteo Manassero, the player McIlroy succeeded as winner of the BMW PGA Championship last month, also features, along with compatriot Edoardo Molinari, with the aim of becoming the first continental European to win the Irish Open since Denmark’s Thomas Björn in 2006.
The last non-European to win the title was New Zealand’s Michael Campbell at Portmarnock in 2003, but there will be strong representation from outside the continent this year, including multiple European Tour winners Branden Grace of South Africa, Brett Rumford of Australia and Jeev Milkha Singh of India.
Antonia Beggs, Championship Director of The Irish Open, said: “The Irish Open is always one of the most popular tournaments on The European Tour’s Race to Dubai, attracting impressive galleries each year, and our players are looking forward to playing at Fota Island for the first time since 2002.
“With a number of players in the field coming from the US Open at Pinehurst, this year’s Irish Open promises to be another celebration of golf, and another special occasion.”
The 2014 Irish Open takes place on the Jeff Howes-designed course at Fota Island Resort, offering great value for a full day’s entertainment with advance tickets priced at €30 for an Adult Day Ticket (€35 on the gate) and €70 for Adult Season Tickets (€80 on the gate). Children under 16 go free.
For tickets, prizes and more info, visit www.irishopen.ie