Carton House could trump Killarney with powerful bid to host Irish Open
CARTON HOUSE will wade in with a powerful bid to stage next summer's Irish Open if the European Tour come knocking.
Tour sources have privately suggested that a return closer to Dublin would boost the event's commercial potential, but Killarney Golf and Fishing Club insist they still hope to stage the Irish Open for a third time in a row next summer.
"No decision has been made," insisted Killarney general manager Maurice O'Meara. "We're still hopeful that it will be played here next year."
Expressing pride at the huge success of the last two Irish Opens, O'Meara went on: "I believe Killarney has been very good for the tournament; it certainly is extremely important to the town."
He pointed out that the new dates (June 28-July 1) are better suited for Killarney than the tournament's former slot on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
However, a strong financial case has been made within the Tour for a return to the Dublin area, with Solheim Cup hosts Killeen Castle and Carton House, venue for the 2005 and 2006 Irish Opens, set to be the top contenders.
Conor Mallaghan, managing partner at Carton, said: "If the opportunity to host the Irish Open presented itself again, we'd throw our hat into the ring.
"We offer a vastly different product now than in 2005 and 2006. The hotel was under construction at that time ... effectively, we were a building site.
"The fact there's a hotel now in situ would be a major advantage to the tournament, while the 'Monty' is a different course. It has matured nicely and would present a very fair challenge."
Of the Irish players canvassed by Tour officials in Dubai, Graeme McDowell offered a forthright opinion.
"I want the Irish Open to be the best event it can possibly be. I'm a fan of the Dublin area and it promotes the best attendance, excitement and buzz.
"I enjoyed Killarney as a venue," he went on. "The crowds were quite good but I didn't enjoy it as a golf course. It wasn't my favourite. It was a fun venue but I'd love to see it go back to the Dublin area."
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," O'Meara replied. "But the Irish Open would have a far bigger buzz in Killarney, where it's a focal point of our summer, than in a city like Dublin, which hosts many major international events."