After an absence of almost 60 years, and following two hugely successful stagings of the championship at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, the Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland this summer when the classic links at Royal Portrush hosts the 2012 event from Thursday 28 June – Sunday 1 July.
The championship was last staged in Northern Ireland in 1953 when Scotsman Eric Brown won at the Belvoir Park Golf Club in south Belfast and will be the tenth time in total, although the first since the birth of The European Tour in 1972.
Furthermore, The European Tour is delighted to announce that the 2013 Irish Open will be played at Carton House Golf Club inCountyKildare, the venue for the championship in both 2005 and 2006.
Carton House Golf Club, one of Ireland’s great historic estates, now features a majestic 165 bedroom hotel with spa and is also home to the Golfing Union of Ireland who, through its golf development programmes and junior coaching schemes, have helpedIrelandproduce four Major Champions in the past five years.
Before the return toCountyKildarenext year, however, the spotlight will focus on Royal Portrush this summer – the fourth time the venue has staged the championship.
Royal Portrush’s Dunluce Course also staged The Open Championship in 1951 when Englishman Max Faulkner’s three under par total of 285 was enough to take the Claret Jug.
The new venue for the 2012 Irish Open will continue to focus the attention of the golfing world on Northern Ireland which has enjoyed a glorious spell at the pinnacle of the game over the last two years; following on from the ground-breaking achievement of three Major Championship victories in 13 months by Ireland’s Padraig Harrington in 2007/2008.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “I applaud the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government for their vision in taking the Irish Open to Royal Portrush Golf Club, one of the world’s great links courses, a mere three weeks prior to The Open Championship. We are following on from a truly special two years for Northern Irish golfers on the world stage and we are delighted to be able to recognise their achievements in this way.”
Arlene Foster, Tourism Minister, Northern Ireland Executive, said: “The success of Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell has led many commentators to labelNorthern Irelandas the golfing capital of the world – this reputation has been borne out with this significant announcement today. Bringing the Irish Open to Royal Portrush will showcase our golf tourism offering to a worldwide audience and will provide a major boost to our local economy.
“The Irish Open is a welcome addition to our impressive programme of NI 2012 events. This is our year to change global perceptions and repositionNorthern Irelandas a place to live, work, invest, study and visit.”
Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of FailtéIreland, said: “This commitment by The European Tour to Irish golf is great news but no surprise. On the back of two highly successful Irish Open events in Killarney, I can fully understand why the Tour would be so keen to continue to build on that progress. Given the success ofUlstergolfers in recent years, it is very fitting that we stage the Irish Open in Portrush this year.
“Just as our northern stars have proven to be great advertisements for Irish golf, I am sure the Irish Open in Portrush will be a great calling card internationally for the sport on this island. Of course, I am equally pleased that we will be hosting the 2013 Irish Open at Carton House. During that particular year, we will be hosting The Gathering – the biggest tourism festival ever held inIreland– and, as part of that, we look forward to making the Irish Open a special and unforgettable element of The Gathering programme.”
Royal Portrush www.royalportrushgolfclub.com
Carton House Golf Club www.cartonhouse.com