Ladies Irish Open boss Roddy Carr avoided some Chinese torture to deliver a world class field at Killeen Castle next month.
The €400,000 curtain-raiser for September’s Solheim Cup could have been turned into a damp squib as it clashed with a $2 million US women’s tour event in China.
But Chinese red tape has tied the Imperial Springs LPGA event up in knots and allowed Carr to sign up US stars Christina Kim, Angela Stanford and teenage sensation Lexi Thompson to accompany major winner Stacey Lewis at the Meath venue from August 5-7.
Expecting over 30,000 fans to turn up at Killeen Castle for the Ladies European Tour event, promoter Carr said: “It’s a major relief. When we discovered the LPGA had scheduled a $2m event for the same week it was a huge blow to us. Not funny.
“The promoters of the Chinese event were going to pay the players’ air fares out there and anybody who wanted to be on the US Solheim Cup team would have had to play in China, which is fully understandable
“I had to target players who wouldn’t have to go to China, such as Stacey Lewis, or wouldn’t want to go. But a grey area emerged in the last three weeks and now it looks as though the Chinese event is off or going to be moved to a later date.
“As a result we have been able to get the commitment of other big American players and we’ve got a fantastic field that will give fans a real taste of what’s to come when the Solheim Cup is played at Killeen Castle in September.”
Lewis, who captured the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, will be joined by crowd favourite Kim, three-time Solheim Cup player Stanford and 16-year old sensation Thompson, who was the youngest player ever to tee it up in a US Women’s Open at age 12.
The Ladies Irish Open is a taster for the clash of Europe and the US in the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle from September 23-25.
All Europe’s big stars will tee it up including English legend Laura Davies, Melissa Reid, Maria Hjorth and defending champion Sophie Gustafson of Sweden.
There will also be plenty of home grown talent on show including Ireland’s top player Rebecca Codd, who lies 25th in the European Solheim standings.
Codd will be joined by Martina Gillen and top amateurs Danielle McVeigh from County Down and the sensational 16 year old twins Cavan twins Leona and Lisa Maguire.
The event is sponsored by AIB and Failte Ireland, who are delighted that Ireland’s golfing wares will be on show around the world.
Failte Ireland’s Head of Golf Tourism, Keith McCormack said: “For Ireland to stage both the Ladies Irish Open and The Solheim Cup in one year is a major boost for Irish golf, the Irish economy and indeed the Boyne Valley region.
“The events will showcase some of the best golfing talent in the world and will be witnessed by millions worldwide, providing Ireland with the perfect platform to showcase itself in terms of tourism. We encourage the Irish public to support both events in this unique year for Irish golf.”
Killeen Castle is located just off exit six on the M3, around 15 minutes from the Blanchardstown M50 turn-off.
Standard tickets are just €10 with season passes for €25 while children and senior citizens can go free. Public parking is available on-site and tickets can be purchased on entry or by visiting www.ladiesirishopen.ie.