The European Tour makes its first visit to Ballybunion, one of the finest links courses golf has to offer, for the Murphy's Irish Open with Spain's Sergio Garcia defending the title.
Twelve months ago Garcia, only a teenager at the time, won by three strokes from Argentinian Angel Cabrera at Druids Glen in County Wicklow. Garcia shot a total of 268 to claim his first professional win in his sixth tournament since joining the paid ranks at the end of April 1999.
Garcia went on win the Linde German Masters, captain the successful Spanish Alfred Dunhill Cup Team and produce a magnificent performance on his debut for Europe in the Ryder Cup, all of which highlight the unique and exciting talent he has brought to World Golf.
Also in the world class field is José Maria Olazábal, the 1999 Masters Champion and winner of the Benson and Hedges International Trophy earlier this year, who will be hoping to add to his 1990 Irish Open victory.
Other major champions this week include Seve Ballesteros, winner of 88 titles world wide including three Open Championships, two Masters and three Irish Opens, Bernhard Langer, twice Masters Champion and also a three-time winner of the Irish Open including the inaugural Murphy's Irish Open at Mount Juliet in 1994, and Ian Woosnam, winner of the Masters Tournament in 1991 and back-to-back Irish Opens in 1988 and 1989.
The current leader of the Volvo Order of Merit Darren Clarke, who defeated Tiger Woods in the final of the WGC - Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship at La Costa earlier this season and successfully defended his Compass Group English Open, heads the Irish contingent along with Padriag Harrington, winner of the Brazil Sao Paulo 500 Years Open, and Paul McGinley. Miguel Angel Jiménez will making his first competitive appearance since his outstanding week at Pebble Beach when he produced the best performance by a continental player in the 100 year history of the US Open.
Amateur entries have also been received from Matt Kuchar, the 1997 US. Amateur Champion.
Ballybunion is consistently rated as one of the world's greatest golf courses, the large sand dunes and Atlantic backdrop making it one of the most scenically beautiful courses on the European Tour.