Wednesday 11 December 2019

Carton at epicentre as Ireland gets green light for world championships

Carton House will host the men's and women's world amateur championships in 2018. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Carton House will host the men's and women's world amateur championships in 2018. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Irish amateur golf has pulled off a major coup that will once again propel this country into the centre of the world stage and bring thousands of visitors flocking to these shores.

The Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union have succeeded with a bold joint bid to host the men's and women's world amateur championships in September 2018, both to be played on successive weeks on the O'Meara and Montgomerie courses at Carton House.

Staging the Eisenhower and Espirito Santo trophies is perfectly in keeping with this island's tradition for hosting huge golf events like the Ryder Cup at the K Club in 2006 and the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle three years ago, not forgetting amateur showpieces like the Walker and Curtis Cup.

Though the amateur world championships are unlikely to stoke spectator passion on the scale of the Ryder Cup, the elite field will be the biggest by far to compete in an international event on our shores.

The announcement that Ireland would be venue for the biennial championship in 2018 was made by the International Golf Federation during yesterday's opening ceremony for the Eisenhower Trophy in Karuizawa, just an hour from Tokyo on the 'Bullet Train',

The Eisenhower Trophy is a 72-hole stroke-play team championship for men, which this year is being contested by 72 nations, each represented by three golfers.

Ireland's high-powered trio in Japan are Paul Dunne of Greystones, West Waterford's Gary Hurley and Gavin Moynihan of The Island. The Espirito Santo Trophy, played last week under the same format, drew 51 countries, yet those figures are expected to increase significantly by 2018, especially given golf's return to the Olympic arena in Rio in 2016 under the auspices of the IGF.

So 500 or more of the world's elite amateurs, plus team support and thousands of spectators, will be drawn to the fairways at Carton in 2018.

A joint delegation from the GUI and ILGU was in Japan to conduct an information campaign ahead of the vote. Ireland lodged the only bid but the proposal, supported by Failte Ireland's new Major Events Unit, had to be endorsed by the international federation.

"Being selected to host the most prestigious amateur golf event in the world is a great achievement for Ireland," said ILGU chief executive Sinead Heraty.

GUI secretary general Pat Finn expressed his delight "that the countries of the International Golf Federation unanimously approved Ireland's bid."

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