Harrington and Clarke delighted to see national Open return to Fota
FOUR of Europe's greatest golf stars have given their thumbs-up to Fota Island as the venue for June's Irish Open.
Major-winners Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke; Irish Open champ Paul Casey and Scottish legend Colin Montgomery led a chorus of approval for the decision to play the 2014 tournament at the Cobh estate.
"It's a great, all-inclusive venue. Fota lends itself very nicely to staging the Irish Open. It's a beautiful park in itself and any event there has a really nice feel to it," said Harrington. "I expect the tournament to get a fantastic reception once again in Cork," he added.
The choice of Fota, the worst kept secret in Irish golf, is to be confirmed early next week. "I got the big heads-up -- it's not going to be announced until Monday," sighed Harrington: "Yet now it's all over the place."
Fota hosted the Irish Open in 2001 and 2002, and Clarke, who tied second with Harrington behind Monty there 12 years ago, says: "the last couple of times there were really successful tournaments.
"I remember 18, with the water all around it, as a very exciting hole and I'm sure the course will have matured well in the intervening years," he said.
"It's a great decision," said Casey, winner at Carton House last June. "I played both Irish Opens down there and the atmosphere was superb.
"I understand the Casey name is from the Cork area, so, hopefully, I'll get quite a few followers, despite an overwhelming interest in the Irish players."
Montgomerie, who remembers the golf course as a fine strategic challenge which rewarded precision of the tee, shared in a stunning sporting double at Fota in 2001.
"I was staying with John Magnier," he explained. "His horse, Galileo , won the Irish Derby and I won the Irish Open. So it was a good weekend."