Jamie Donaldson will again hope to hold off the formidable challenge of Ireland’s Major Champions, when he defends his Irish Open title at Carton House, in Co. Kildare, from June 27-30.
The Welshman claimed his maiden European Tour victory with a dominant performance at Royal Portrush last year, with Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy among those left trailing in his wake.
Donaldson then defeated another world-class field, which included current World Number Two McIlroy, as well as 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods, to clinch his second European Tour title with an equally impressive performance in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January.
With Ireland’s quartet of Major Champions already confirmed as part of the field for the 2013 Irish Open, Donaldson will have to be at his very best again if he is to become the first player to successfully defend the title since Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie in 1997.
It is the Montgomerie Course at Carton House that awaits The European Tour players in June, and despite it being a different challenge to the links of Royal Portrush, Donaldson cannot wait to defend his title there at the end of a big month for European golf, starting with next week’s BMW PGA Championship.
“It’s a different golf course, but Carton House is a tough test as well,” he said. “They are all tough, the courses we play in Ireland. Carton House is particularly hard, but I’m looking forward to it and it will be great to defend my title there.”
Donaldson’s career was at a crossroads the last time The European Tour visited Carton House in 2006, but the Welshman will not be short of confidence when he returns to Co. Kildare to defend his Irish Open title.
The 37 year old, whose game at the time was affected by a back injury, missed the cut on both previous occasions the Irish Open visited Carton House, in 2005 and 2006, and was forced to rebuild his game on the Challenge Tour.
But his career has been on an upward trajectory since regaining his playing rights for the 2008 season, and his victory at Royal Portrush last year helped him to a career best 19th place finish in The Race to Dubai.
His win in Abu Dhabi moved him into the World’s top 30, meaning he played in both the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the WGC-Cadillac Championship, before he made his debut in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in April.
But it was his victory in the Irish Open that began Donaldson’s remarkable ascent, as he ended a 255 tournament wait for a European Tour title courtesy of a wire-to-wire, four stroke win in front of a sell-out crowd at Royal Portrush.
Donaldson hopes the support of Irish golf fans can again inspire him to a successful defence.
“It was a massive thrill to win last year,” he said. “Portrush is an incredible golf course and the crowds were massive all week. I love playing links courses by the ocean and it was great to win on one.
“The crowds were fantastic, the support was immense and there was great buzz about the place. Everyone was cheering and there was noise all over the golf course. It was a really good day. I played well from the word go and it was great to win in style like that.
“The crowds are important and they are always good for the Irish Open. If they are anywhere near as good as they were last year, they will be immense. But there will be big crowds as there were last year and I’m sure they will build on it at Carton House.”
Golf fans hoping to see Donaldson defend his title at Carton House can take advantage of a special advance ticketing offer.
An advance season ticket for all four days can be bought for €70, a saving and €10 on admission at the gate. Adult day tickets are priced at €30 pre-event, and €35 on the gate. Concessions are available at €50 for a season (€60 on the gate) and €20 for any one day (€25 on the gate).
Under-16s accompanied by an adult are admitted free of charge and all car parking is also free. Reserved grandstand seating can also be purchased immediately for Thursday, Friday and Saturday (€10) and the Sunday (€15) of the event.
Additionally, as part of the Irish Open ticket campaign, fans of golf and horse racing can enjoy both sports on the same day – Saturday, June 29 – by purchasing a specially priced ‘Irish Double’ ticket to enjoy the third round of the Irish Open and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Day for a combined price of €50.
Corporate Hospitality packages are also available with prices ranging from €245 to €295 (plus VAT). For all enquiries please contact Joanne in CSL Hospitality on 01 676 6650 or firstname.lastname@example.org For further information please visit www.cslhospitality.ie
Full ticket information can be found at: www.europeantour.com/tickets or telephone Ticket Hotline: +440800 023 2557. Irish callers can phone: 1890 252 698. Postal enquiries should be sent to: European Tour Tickets, Mirren Court Three, 123 Renfrew Court Three, Paisley, PA3 4EA.
Now, all golf fans can re-live Jamie Donaldson’s superb 2012 win at Royal Portrush http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJgpbG5N3v0 and see some other historic moments from past winners such as Christy O'Connor Jnr, Ken Brown, Sam Torrance, John O’Leary, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, José Maria Olazábal, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Sergio García, Thomas Björn, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry.