Padraig welcomes change to Irish Open date
Published 14/10/2011 | 05:00
Padraig Harrington has welcomed a decision to move next year's Irish Open, with Ireland's premier event to be staged from June 28 to July 1 in 2012, although a main sponsor is still to be signed.
It means the 2012 Irish Open won't clash with the July 27 commencement of the London Olympics.
Also, it will see four of the biggest events on the 2012 'Race To Dubai' schedule being contested between the end of the US Open in San Francisco on June 17 and the start of the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Anne's on July 19.
They include the BMW International Open (June 21 to 24), Irish Open (June 28 to July 1), French Open (July 5 to 8) and the Scottish Open (July 12 to 15).
"It's a good decision. I don't think moving the Irish Open to before the Open championship will do it any harm," said Harrington after signing for a five-under-par 67 on the opening day of the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura.
"We're still going to get all the leading Irish players competing but then moving the Irish Open certainly won't attract any less of the other leading Europeans."
The only concern in moving the Irish Open to late June could be the loss of reigning US Open champion Rory McIlroy, as the PGA Tour's AT&T National is played in that week each year.
And with McIlroy taking up full-time PGA Tour membership, he would be seriously tempted to compete given the event is returning to the US capital and the Congressional course where the young Ulsterman claimed a maiden Major championship title.
Keith Waters, director of international policy with the European Tour, indicated yesterday in Portugal that discussions are still on-going with regards to finding a main sponsor for the Irish Open.
"We are pretty sure we are returning to Killarney next year, but then we are still in discussions regarding a sponsor," he said.
In another switch to the 2012 Race To Dubai schedule, the BMW Italian Open is moving from its normal early June date to mid-September, just prior to the September 27 starting date of the Ryder Cup.
"Moving the Italian Open to September is purely to get all the leading Italian players to compete," said Waters.