Irish Open (golf)
|Location||Ireland – varies; in 2017:
Portstewart, Northern Ireland
|Established||1927, 90 years ago|
|Course(s)||Portstewart Golf Club
|Length||7,124 yards (6,514 m)|
|Prize fund||$7 million|
|Tournament record score|
|Aggregate||266 Colin Montgomerie (2001)
266 Ross Fisher (2010)
|To par||−21 Christy O'Connor Jnr (1975)
−21 Bernhard Langer (1984)
The Irish Open (Irish: Comórtas Oscailte na hÉireann) is a professional golf tournament on the European Tour. Since 2015, the Irish Open has been hosted by Rory McIlroy, and his charitable foundation is the main benefactor; the title sponsor is Dubai Duty Free.
The Irish Open was first played 90 years ago in 1927 and was played annually, except for the war years, until 1950. There was a tournament in 1953, but the event was then not played again until revived in 1975. It has been contested annually since then. From 1963 to 1974 Carroll's sponsored a tournament, generally called the Carroll's International and in 1975 they became the sponsor of the Irish Open which became known as the Carroll's Irish Open.
In 2014 and 2015, it was one of the qualifying events for The Open Championship; the leading three players who had not already qualified and who finished in the top ten qualified.
The Irish Open was added to the European Tour Rolex Series in 2017, joining the BMW PGA Championship, Scottish Open, Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge, and DP World Tour Championship. This was created to increase the profile of the season; the seven tournaments each have a $7 million prize fund, with the DP World Tour Championship at $8 million.
The first Irish Open in 1927 was played at Portmarnock Golf Club from 16 to 18 August. There were 18 holes played on the first two days with the leading 60 players and ties playing a further 36 holes on the final day. In a stiff breeze local professional Willie Nolan led after the first day with a course record 72. On the second day Nolan faded after an 81 and the lead was taken by Henry Cotton on 146 with Jack Smith a shot behind. The cut was 165 and exactly 60 players qualified, including 6 amateurs. Conditions were very poor on the final day with the refreshment and press tents blown down and rain falling in torrents. Jack Smith had an excellent 77 in the morning and with Henry Cotton taking 86, Smith had an eight-shot lead over Cotton and Archie Compston. Smith, however, went to pieces and had a final round of 91 and was overtaken by Cotton, who took 81. George Duncan, starting the final round 14 shots behind, scored 74 and finished with a total of 312, beating Smith by three and Cotton by one. Duncan's score of 74 was remarkable in that it was only two strokes over the new course record, on a day when his 74 and Smith's 77 in the morning were the only two rounds under 80 on the final day. Duncan took the Championship Gold Medal and the first prize of £150. Nolan was the leading Irishman, finishing fifth.
In 1932 and 1933, the Irish Open was preceded by an international match between teams of English and Irish professionals. England won the first match 16–2 and the second match 13–3 with two halves. The matches followed the same form as the England–Scotland Professional Match that had been played just before the Open Championship.
The Irish Open has generally been played in June, July, or August, but from 2004 to 2009 it was played in May, the week before the BMW PGA Championship. In 2010 and 2011, the tournament was moved to a later date at the end of July, while it was played in late June from 2012 through 2014.
The tournament enjoys one of the largest galleries on the European Tour. In 2010, the Irish Open at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club had an attendance of 85,179 over four days, second only to the BMW PGA Championship. In 2011, Killarney Golf & Fishing Club tallied in excess of 86,500 over four days. This was again the second highest on the European Tour to the BMW PGA Championship. In 2012, Royal Portrush Golf Club had a record attendance of 112,000 over four days; 131,000 over the six days. This was the only time a European Tour event had sold out prior to play on all four days and was the highest attendance ever recorded on the European Tour.
Since 2008, it has been the only European Tour event played in Ireland. The European Open was held at the K Club in Straffan for thirteen years from 1995 to 2007 while the 2007 Seve Trophy and the 2006 Ryder Cup were the last major team competitions played in Ireland.
Following the departure of Nissan as title sponsor in 2006, Adare Golf Club, part of the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in County Limerick, had planned to host the tournament for three years, from 2007 to 2009. After two years, it was announced in January 2009 that they could no longer sustain the losses incurred by hosting the event for a third year. In early March, the European Tour confirmed the national championship would return to County Louth Golf Club, Baltray, which had last hosted in 2004, with a new sponsor, 3 Mobile.
Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of the Republic of Ireland, agreed to sponsor in 2011, but with a reduced purse, cut in half to €1.5 million. In 2015 the event was sponsored by Dubai Duty Free in conjunction with the Rory Foundation. On 12 October 2015, it was announced that Dubai Duty Free had extended their sponsorship to 2018 along with the Rory Foundation.
(a) indicates an amateur golfer
|Colin Montgomerie||3||1996, 1997, 2001|
|Bernhard Langer||3||1984, 1987, 1994|
|Nick Faldo||3||1991, 1992, 1993|
|Seve Ballesteros||3||1983, 1985, 1986|
|Sam Torrance||2||1981, 1995|
|Ian Woosnam||2||1988, 1989|
|Mark James||2||1979, 1980|
|Harry Bradshaw||2||1947, 1949|
|Ernest Whitcombe||2||1928, 1935|
|Bob Kenyon||2||1931, 1933|
- "Golf - The Irish Open Championship". The Times. 17 August 1927. p. 5.
- "Golf - The Irish Open Championship". The Times. 18 August 1927. p. 5.
- "The Irish Open Championship - G Duncan the first holder". The Times. 19 August 1927. p. 6.
- "International at Cork". The Glasgow Herald. 23 August 1932. p. 3.
- "England beat Ireland". The Glasgow Herald. 26 July 1933. p. 6.
- "Irish Open prize money increased". BBC Sport. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
- "Purse is down but Rory will be there". Irish Times. 29 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Dubai Duty Free extends Irish Open sponsorship until 2018". PGA European Tour. 12 October 2015.
- "Irish Open: tournament history". European Tour. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "The Irish Open – Past Winners". Irish Golf Desk. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "Past Irish Open Winners". sportsnetwork.com. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Ballyliffin pushing for 2019 Open curtain-raiser; but will Fáilte Ireland still back Irish Open?".
- "Ballyliffin Golf Club asks to be added to rota of Irish Open venues". 17 May 2016 – via www.bbc.com.
- "Irish Open: "This is a whole new ball game"".