Irish Open Back at Killarney Next Year

Next year's Irish Open will return to Killarney Golf and Fishing Club. According to the Irish Times, the event, which still needs a title sponsor, will be held once again on the facility's Killeen course July 28-31.

George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, made the announcement at the Irish Links Society Dinner at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin on Monday. He confirmed that Fáilte Ireland (the nation's tourism agency) will support the event and is hoping to attract a title sponsor before the 2011 tournament is staged.

"All our members have spoken very highly of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club and the tremendous welcome given to them, not only by the club but by the town of Killarney itself," said O'Grady. "There was a wonderful festival atmosphere generated by the record crowds over the course of the week and we are so pleased to be returning."

Though the total purse for the Irish Open is likely to be less than in previous years, due to the country's poor economy, O'Grady said golf in Ireland was too important for there not to be a tournament. The 2010 event at the Killeen course had a purse of 3 million Euros and was won by England's Ross Fisher, who earned 500,000 Euros.

"The Irish players spoke to me and we have to keep it going. It's a great time for Irish golf and, when you see the talent in Ireland, it is unthinkable not to have an Irish Open."

O'Grady discussed the event last month with various Irish players at last month's Dubai World Championship. "They were all there, led by Pádraig (Harrington). Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley are all hugely committed, and we are committed too," added O'Grady.

"All the Irish players are onside. We all sat in a room together and worked out what we could do for the Irish Open. They are all fully behind the event and will give it their full support."

The Irish Open was first held in Killarney in 1991 and '92; both events were won by Nick Faldo.

"Killarney Golf and Fishing Club is delighted and welcomes the announcement that the 2011 Irish Open will return to Killarney to be played on the world-class Killeen Course," said Maurice O'Meara, general manager of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club. "Following the amazing success of last year's Irish Open, we hope that we can build on this success and add even more to this year's event.

"We look forward to working closely with the European Tour, Fáilte Ireland and all of the local businesses in Killarney to make the 2011 Irish Open one of the Irish sporting events of the year. Having welcomed the leading European Tour players in 2010 we hope that they and their families will return again in 2011 for a Bank Holiday festival of golf."