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2011 Solheim Cup Awarded To Killeen Castle, Ireland
At a press conference at the National Museum, Dublin, Alexandra Armas, Executive Director of the Ladies European Tour (LET), announced that the 2011 Solheim Cup will take place at Killeen Castle, County Meath, Ireland. A five-year agreement was also announced between LET and Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, to stage a new tournament on The Ladies European Tour, the Irish Ladies Open. This will commence in 2008.
Armas said, "The Solheim Cup has grown rapidly over the last few years, never more notably than in 200, when it was held at Barseback in Sweden. Sweden was an outstanding success for us with over 100,000 spectators, live TV coverage in Europe and the United States. Swedish companies were also generous with their sponsorship. Such was the acclaim of Sweden in 2003 the LET decided to take the Solheim Cup back there in 2007, this time to Halmstad Golf Club (between Malmo and Gothenburg). We anticipate that Sweden will again take the Solheim Cup to a higher level. So we at the LET were faced with choosing a venue for 2011, one which could build on the great achievement of Sweden.
"To demonstrate the interest that has now built up around the Solheim Cup, we were delighted to receive bids from seven different countries. These were England, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland and Spain. Each bid was strong. Good courses, sound financial structure and some receiving considerable government support. We have chosen Ireland and Killeen Castle for a number of reasons. The first of which is the superb way the whole nation supported the Ryder Cup in September. The second is that we believe the modern Ireland is a young, vibrant society compatible with the image we wish to promote for ladies golf. It is true that Ireland does not have a great history in ladies professional golf, but we firmly believe that the decision we have taken to come to Ireland will help to change that.
"We have been greatly impressed by the people at Failte Ireland and Killeen Castle. The course and facilities will be excellent. The course is designed by Jack Nicklaus and will meet top championship standards. It is designed for spectator viewing and will have a stand-alone clubhouse as well as a 179-room luxury hotel and spa. There are ample grounds for spectator parking and all the facilities needed for a major golf event. It is easy reach of both Dublin and the international airport. As you may know, the venue is still in development. The golf course will open in autumn 2008 and the hotel in 2009.
"To emphasize our commitment to what we see as the 'new' Ireland, we have also reached agreement with Failte Ireland to stage a new tournament, The Ladies Irish Open. We have an initial five-year agreement starting from 2008. The venues for this tournament are not yet agreed, but it will move around Ireland. In 2010 it will be played at Killeen Castle.
"The Ladies Irish Open is an important addition to the growing Ladies European Tour. In November of this year we staged our first event in Dubai, the Dubai Ladies Masters, and looking forward to 2007 we have already announced three new tournaments: the MFS Women's Australian Open at Royal Sydney, the Ladies European Masters at the Oxfordshire England and the De Vere Ladies Scottish Open at the Carrick on Loch Lomond.
"I would like to thank, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue, Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority and the owners of Killeen Castle for making this magnificent commitment to Ladies Golf."
John O'Donoghue, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, added, "I am delighted that Ireland will be hosting the Solheim Cup in 2011. Given the great success of the Ryder Cup in Ireland in September, I was pleased to join forces with Snowbury Ltd. to put forward the best possible bid for the holding of the Solheim Cup in Ireland in 2011. The experience and expertise gained over the past eight years since signing the Ryder Cup agreement, ensures that Ireland is ideally placed to host an enhanced Solheim Cup. I look forward to the prospect of developing a long-term relationship with the Ladies European Tour to help invigorate and increase awareness of ladies' golf in Ireland and further a field."
Brian Wallace, on behalf of Killeen Castle, said: "The nomination to stage the Solheim Cup makes another bold statement about Ireland as the leading golf destination in Europe. We at Killeen Castle promise to make it an occasion to remember as the best Solheim Cup ever staged.
”On behalf of myself and my partners, Joe O'Reilly, Liam Maye and John Fitzsimons, I would like to pay tribute to Mr. John O'Donoghue, Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, the Irish Government, the officials at the Ladies European tour, to Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority and to all local representatives, led by Mr. Noel Dempsey TD, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, for all their proactive work and support in bringing this most prestigious event to Ireland and Killeen Castle."
Nicklaus said: "As the course designer, I am proud to be part of what is happening at Killeen Castle. It is phenomenal, what with the Castle as a focal point. You have wonderful facilities to stage the Solheim Cup or the Ryder Cup in the future. It is a very strong course and will be nicely matured for 2011. I congratulate the Ladies European Tour and the Solheim Cup organizers for picking Killeen Castle."
John A. Solheim, Chairman and CEO of PING said: "After visiting the site and seeing the development and viewing some of the golf course, I am excited about this venue. I know it will be very challenging for the ladies as well as exciting and enjoyable for the people watching. Picking a golf course that is still under construction is not something we would normally consider. However, Killeen Castle is going to be something very special. Also, we are thrilled to be coming to Ireland for the 2011 Solheim Cup, having witnessed first-hand how well the Irish hosted this year's Ryder Cup event. It is also fitting that the Solheim Cup is coming to Ireland as the trophy was originally created in 1990 by Waterford Crystal and has been associated with the matches ever since. The Solheim Cup is indeed 'coming home.’ "
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