After the excitement of another European victory in the US open Championship – the fourth in five years - the golfing spotlight now falls on Fota Island Resort and the Irish Open in Co.Cork.
As they packed their bags to fly back to Europe after the thrills and spills of Pinehurst, many of the leading contenders were already turning their attention to one of the top events on The European Tour International Schedule.
Although they didn’t figure in the shake-up, which carried Martin Kaymer to his second Major title, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell couldn’t resist sneaking a look forward to this week’s action.
McIlroy, who closed with a 73 for a tie for 23rd place three years after his Kaymer-esque performance in Washington, said: “I don’t know Fota at all and I’ve never been to Cork, unbelievably. It’s going to be good. Irish Opens are always great events – they are always so well supported and so well attended, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve heard great things about the course, so I’m really looking forward to getting down there and seeing it for myself. I vaguely remember watching the Irish Open on TV when it was there in 2002. It’s a parkland golf course, which will be nice after last week at Pinehurst, where I made only nine birdies in four rounds.
“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t do better this week, but I’m really happy with where my game is right now and it’ll be the first time playing in Europe since I won the BMW PGA Championship.
“I’m going there third in The Race to Dubai so there’s a lot to play for and hopefully I’ll have a great week.”
McDowell added: “The Irish Open is always special to us as Irish players. Fota Island was my Irish Open debut and it’s got good memories, good thoughts, a great venue. Everyone is going to be very excited and very pumped up. It should be a great Irish Open. I’m very excited about it and I’m going there with my game in decent shape.”
Tied on 28th spot with McDowell was Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who is fast becoming a big attraction on The European Tour after a dazzling year in which he has established himself as a leading contender for big titles.
“I have never played there but everyone I speak to about it can only say good things.” commented the Frenchman.” I’m excited about going back to play in Europe as I’ve only played once there so far this year – in Sweden. The crowds are always very good in Ireland and they appreciate good golf.”
Germany’s Marcel Siem was unable to reproduce the brilliant golf of his countryman Kaymer, but he hopes to takes that inspiration to Fota Island Resort, where he played in the Irish Open 12 years ago.
“I played there in 2002, which was my first year on Tour, and fell in love with it” declared Siem, whose final round of 70 helped him to a tied 12th finish in America alongside defending champion Justin Rose. “When I heard the Irish Open was going back there this year I was very happy. It’s a great course and generally a good place to be. The Irish Open is one of the best-attended events on Tour so I’m looking forward to feeling that atmosphere again.”
Irish golf fans are also poised to enjoy the professional debut of hugely talented English youngster, Matthew Fitzpatrick, who concluded his glittering amateur career with a closing round of 69 at Pinehurst to claim the amateur silver medal.
Fitpatrick has all the credentials to reach the peak of the pro game and he enthused: “I’ve never played there but I’ve heard great things about it and I’m excited to see for myself. It’ll be very different from Pinehurst, that’s for sure.
“I’m really looking forward to making my debut as a professional and it’s great to be able to do it in such a strong field. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are world-class, but there are so many other great players playing too. It’s exciting stuff.”
ADVANCE TICKET PRICES END TODAY!!
Tickets for the Irish Open 2014 Pro Am are priced at €10, with concession prices still available for the full Irish Open 2014 tournament until 6.00pm on Tuesday, 17th June: €30 for an Adult Day Ticket (€35 at gate) and €70 for Adult Season Tickets (€80 at gate) so hurry, it’s your last chance to pick up an advance priced ticket and enjoy up to five days of unmissable on course action.
For tickets and information www.irishopen.ie
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