Liam Kelly: Time to bang heads together in pursuit of bigger, better Open
WHAT can be done to make the Irish Open bigger and better?
That's the question now facing the European Tour after a successful staging of the tournament on the Montgomerie Course at Carton House.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Padraig Harrington hinted he had some plans to bring in a major sponsor, so Tour officials should camp outside his house until he produces a high-quality backer to push up the prize fund and copper-fasten the tournament's finances for the next few years at least.
2. If the Mallaghan family are keen to have the Open return to Carton House next year, ensure it's on the O'Meara course. Nothing against the Monty lay-out, which is a really good test, but the O'Meara's finishing holes are perfect for an intense atmosphere to get the spectators and players pumped up.
3. Find a way to entice some of the World's elite to stop off in Ireland. Appearance fees are probably not sustainable, but make it attractive for key players' wives and families to visit and be entertained while hubby gets on with the business of playing golf.
4. Give Royal Portrush another turn at staging the event very soon. This is, apparently, under consideration but a confirmation of the famed links venue for 2014 or 2015 would be great profile for the Open.
5. Get the government to institute a 'national prayer for the players day' each year to persuade the golfing gods to help our Major champions perform at least as well as Gareth Shaw, Shane Lowry, Peter Lawrie and Simon Thornton did at Carton House.