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Tour chief George O'Grady gives backing to Irish Open

Fáilte Ireland push for tournment’s inclusion on next year’s schedule despite loss of title sponsor.

Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

THE IRISH OPEN will return to Killarney next year as European Tour chiefs continue efforts to find a sponsor for the event.

Previous backers 3 pulled out of the arrangement but organisers are confident they can identify a replacement title sponsor in the coming months.

Fáilte Ireland pushed for the tournament’s inclusion in the tour calender.  It will take place on the bank holiday weekend of July, 28-31.

European Tour chief executive George O’Grady said earlier that the event is an important date in the golfing year.

He told RTÉ’s Greg Allen that some of the country’s top professionals convinced him of the need to return to Kerry and keep the event on the circuit:

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.

This sends a message now that we are going to go ahead with the tournament. I have not announced the prize money yet.

Together with Fáilte Ireland we will do so when we are ready, but this is a positive announcement. I have a level of prize money in my head, and I have no intention, on behalf of the game, to lose money.

O’Grady said that he had informal chats with some of the Tour’s biggest names about saving the tournament.

All the Irish players are onside. We all sat in a room together during the Dubai World Championships and worked out what we could do for the Irish Open.

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.

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The European Tour official added that there was “a lot of sponsor interest” around the event.

Englishman Ross Fisher won this year’s Irish Open, finishing two shots ahead of home favourite Harrington in the Kingdom’s tourism capital.

Listen to Greg Allen’s interview with George O’Grady

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