Friday, April 24, 2009

Ireland's Emerging Crop of Golfers

Graeme McDowell believes that Ireland’s current crop of world class talent combined with a €3 million prize fund and an innovative new sponsor are the three compelling reasons to make The 3 Irish Open one of the strongest events on The European Tour International Schedule as he confirmed his participation. The Ryder Cup star is confident that his previous record over the stunning links that is County Louth Golf Club in Baltray can spur him on to become only the third Irish winner of his National Open in the last 27 years, following three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington’s 2007 success. “It would be a dream to win in front of the home crowd. Following John O’Leary’s victory in 1982, Padraig followed suit for the Irish boys a couple of years ago so hopefully I can back him up this year with a win at Baltray which is a golf course I like,” said McDowell. “I finished 11th when they played the tournament there in 2004 and I finished ninth in the East of Ireland Amateur Championship a few years before that. It’s a golf course I really like and I am looking forward to getting back there. “We are playing for an awful lot of money as well – €3 million – and that is an important factor because we have to try and attract the best possible field to our National Open and get The 3 Irish Open up there as one of the strongest events on The European Tour International Schedule because that is where it deserves to be. “It’s quite amazing that many of the best players in the field, no matter who enters the tournament, will be Irish. You look at the Irish players, especially Padraig with his unbelievable success over the past few years and now with the emergence of Rory, and see that we are competing and succeeding on the world stage. “It’s so important for the tournament that we have such success in Irish golf at the moment and I really hope that the Irish fans get out there and support the boys because the Irish people have always loved their golf and we need to get this tournament back to where it belongs.” Robert Finnegan, Chief Executive of 3, said: “"We are very pleased to announce Graeme is playing in The 3 Irish Open this year at Baltray. As the leading European at the US Masters in Augusta, I’m sure we are all looking forward to watching Graeme compete. The 3 Irish Open is already promising to be an exciting tournament and a highlight of the European Tour. I would encourage all golf fans to come along and support our Irish players at Baltray in May.” Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “I am delighted Graeme McDowell is participating in The 3 Irish Open at the Baltray Links. This Portrush golfer is one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Northern Ireland in recent years. Graeme, who had a particularly magnificent year in 2008 - with a personal victory at the Ballantine’s Championship in March; winning The Barclays Scottish Open in July, in addition to membership of The Ryder Cup Team - will be a fantastic addition to the line up set to play at the County Louth Golf Club next month.” Minister Cullen added: “The support provided by 3 will make The Irish Open which is also supported by Fáilte Ireland, one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour.”

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