Thursday 13 December 2018

Ireland eyes 2026 Ryder Cup bid

Golf

Ireland has previously hosted the biennial event only once, at The K Club in 2006
Ireland has previously hosted the biennial event only once, at The K Club in 2006

Brian Keogh

Ireland is in active discussions to host the 2026 Ryder Cup with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently meeting with European Tour chiefs to discuss the deal.

Sports Minister Shane Ross travelled to the Ryder Cup on September 30 to meet with European Tour Chairman David Williams, CEO Keith Pelley, Deputy CEO Guy Kinnings and the then Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills to discuss taking the 2026 event to Ireland.

But it now appears that those discussions have moved on with Mr Varadkar meeting in Dublin on November 5 with Pelley and his number two Kinnings, who took over from Hills as Ryder Cup Director following September's matches in Paris.

It is understood both Pelley and Kinnings expressed an “openness to considering Ireland” as a potential host and Sports Minister Ross will today brief his ministerial colleagues on his department’s background work on the idea.

Adare Manor has long been considered the favourite to host the event with its owner, JP McManus, confirming earlier this year that the resort in Limerick will be seeking to stage the competition.

“It is every golf course owner’s hope to get the Ryder Cup,” McManus said. “I am sure it will cost plenty. But I would like to bring it to Ireland, to Limerick and to Adare and give the whole south-west a boost.”

Pelley attended the official re-opening of the revamped course at Adare on April 20, when Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry played an exhibition match.

“It is nothing short of spectacular,” Pelley conceded. “As the players said last night, the golf course is a masterpiece.”

Speaking at the Turkish Airlines Open recently, Pelley insisted that a decision on which venue will host the 2026 Ryder Cup is likely to be made early in the New Year.

“The week after France, we had three or four calls regarding 2026,” Pelley said on November 3. “There are some options.

“We have already started the conversations on what the process is going to be, but I think it’s going to move very, very quickly. I think 2026 will be announced in the next three to four months.”

McGinley, who also met Minister Ross in Paris, has insisted that it’s crucial that the Irish government is fully behind the bid.

“First, and most important, it is an Irish bid,” McGinley said at Adare Manor in April. “It is not a JP McManus bid. It is a bid where we need to get the government on side.

“I think we are on the right track and fingers crossed it would be a great venue showcasing Ireland. Nothing is ever simple. It’s not just straightforward, off you go. There is huge competition out there.”

Ireland has previously hosted the biennial event only once, at The K Club in 2006, and Minister Ross revealed following a Freedom of Information request last month that having initially turned down an invitation to attend the Ryder Cup in Paris, he reconsidered when the European Tour “conveyed their wish to discuss the hosting of a future Ryder Cup in Ireland and sought a meeting to discuss same with Ministers and officials.”

“Given the potential value of hosting a future Ryder Cup in Ireland, I reconsidered the European Tour’s request for a meeting,” Minister Ross said. “On 26 September, I decided that I would travel out to Paris to meet with the European Tour and I cancelled my prior commitments for the day of the meeting.”

His department is now engaging in further discussions with the Tour regarding the type of infrastructure this country could offer.

The State would be expected to make a significant contribution to the costs of security and transport.

Officials will carry out a cost-benefit analysis of hosting the tournament.

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