County Louth to host 2009 Irish Open
8th January 2009
The Irish Open is no longer homeless after today's announcement by the European Tour confirmed the national championship will return to one of the best links courses in the country, County Louth Golf Club (Baltray), from May 14th-17th.
Today's news is a welcome boost after Adare Manor in Limerick said they could no longer sustain the losses incurred by hosting the event for a third year.
The Irish Open will return to the Louth venue after it was previously staged there in 2004 when Australia's Brett Rumford held off a strong challenge from Pádraig Harrington to win.
Three-time major winner Harrington said he was delighted the Irish Open was returning to Baltray.
"I am delighted to hear that The Irish Open is returning to Baltray. It is certainly one of the most exciting links courses in the country and one I have enjoyed playing in the past. I look forward to the tournament being a great success," said Harrington who won the Irish Open at Adare Manor in 2007.
Irish Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley was equally thrilled the event is returning to a course where he was once a member in his amateur playing days.
"I was a member at County Louth as a junior and I am absolutely delighted that The Irish Open is going there," he said. "The event has probably gone from the best inland course in Ireland - Adare Manor - to the best links course in Ireland, in my opinion, at Baltray.
"Baltray hits the nail on the head for the spectators from the north and south. We have that new road from Dublin to Belfast which encourage great crowds, so it ticks all the boxes as a venue."
Kevin Byrne, captain at County Louth, was equally delighted to play host once more: "On behalf of County Louth Golf Club may I say what a great honour it is for us to be chosen as the venue for the 2009 Irish Open.
"We are indeed delighted to once again be favoured by The European Tour. With over 70,000 spectators visiting us in 2004 and the expectation of the same again, we are aware not only of the honour bestowed upon us but also the immensity of the undertaking, and, of course, the consequent tourism benefit to the local community.
In December it was confirmed international mobile phone network 3 would become new title sponsors and an official announcement regarding the deal is due later this month.
George O'Grady, European Tour chief executive, said: "We look forward to announcing a new title sponsor in due course, but at the moment we are absolutely delighted at the prospect of a return to one of the most superb, natural links golf courses in the world."
From: IrishTimes by Paul Gallagher
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