Irish Open gets green light for return to Kerry
THE Irish Open will be heading back to Killarney next summer.
European Tour officials are determined to bring the event back to the picturesque Kerry town from July 28-31 in 2011 after the overwhelming success of the tournament there this year.
Admitting disappointment at the recent decision of '3' to withdraw their sponsorship of the Irish Open, Tour chief executive George O'Grady said yesterday: "The event at Killarney was outstandingly successful and I'd like to recreate that for another year, albeit at reduced prize money, unless we get a commercial sponsor.
"Killarney Golf and Fishing Club have been kind enough to give me an option to take the tournament there, which would be my choice," added O'Grady at yesterday's unveiling of the 2011 European Tour schedule in Dubai.
"Within the next week or two, I'll probably confirm that, so we will be selling an Irish Open at Killarney and not wherever a new sponsor wants to go. Failte Ireland and Minister Mary Hanafin are very committed to the tournament and have pledged to try and find us add-itional commercial sponsorship.
"I'm confident that we can run it at reduced prize money and still get ourselves to a break-even position."
Meanwhile, Niall Kearney produced a rousing third-round charge to surge into the top 10 in the European Tour's Q-School stage two in Spain.
The former Walker Cup player fired a seven-under 65 at Costa Ballena for a seven-under 209 and jumped into a share of ninth, with the leading 23 players after today's closing round progressing to next weekend's final.
Damian Mooney also has a final spot in his grasp after joining Kearney on the 209 mark after a 69. Gary Murphy needs to mount a closing-day rally if he is to qualify at El Valle after a one-under 70 left him on a one-over 214.