Ruddy waiting for Irish PGA nod

By Brian Keogh

Pat Ruddy has the welcome mat out for Tiger Woods in 2008.

But the owner and creator of the magnificent European Club at Brittas Bay will happily settle for Open champion Padraig Harrington.

The Dubliner used last July's Irish PGA at The European Club as a springboard to Open glory at Carnoustie.

And while Ruddy would love to leave the links clear for a possible Open Championship warm-up by world No 1 Woods, he's prepared to help Harrington prepare for his Claret Jug defence at Royal Birkdale with another July-staging of the Irish PGA.

The Irish Region of the PGA has yet to announce a venue for the 2008 championship.

But Ruddy has let it be known that he is prepared to give them the run of his links again this year.

He said: "It would be an honour to be involved again and we'd love to try and help Padraig stay at the peak.

"The July date is actually very unsuitable, but that is neither here nor there. Coming right in the middle of summer, it costs a lot of money and eliminates the possibility of Tiger Woods or anyone else coming to practice.

"We are not touting for the Championship and we haven't heard a word. But I've been thinking about it and if the call came, you couldn't but stay onside."

Woods still holds the official course record at The European Club, where he shot a four under par 67 the week before the 2002 Open at Muirfield.

US Ryder Cup star Stewart Cink turned up last year and following the birth of his daughter Sam Alexis last July, Woods is likely to return to Ireland for some pre-Open practice this summer.

With no venue or date, Harrington cannot commit to defending the title he won in a play-off with Brendan McGovern last season.

And while the world No 8 has indicated that crowd control could be an issue, Ruddy reckons he can handle all-comers.

He said: "We would have no problem with big crowds and it is extremely unlikely that the Irish Championship will become as big as the Irish Open. We will accommodate any crowd that the Championship will throw at us."

Irish Region secretary Michael McCumiskey could not be contacted for comment on the venue for the 2008 championship.