The classic, rugged links of Ballybunion Golf Club will stage the 13th edition of the Irish Seniors Open in association with AIB and Fáilte Ireland from June 5-7, 2009.
Ballybunion, perched atop a beautiful stretch of County Kerry coastline, regularly features in any list of the world’s top ten courses and represents a major coup for the European Senior Tour in their quest to play at some of golf’s finest venues.
The 6598 yards, par 71 Old Course is widely regarded as links golf in its purest form and features one of the world’s most awesome and aesthetically pleasing hole, the 453 yard par four 11th, named ‘Watsons’ in recognition of Ballybunion’s Millennium Captain and Honorary Life Member, Tom Watson.
The announcement of Ballybunion as host venue for the Irish Seniors Open in association with AIB and Fáilte Ireland – the 17th confirmed event on the 2009 Schedule - is likely to hold a massive appeal to Senior golfers of the calibre of Watson, the five-time Open Champion and universally recognised as one of the world’s greatest exponents of links golf.
Watson, a three-time winner of The Senior Open Championship, added his glowing testimonial after adding some personal tweaks to the classic lay-out, stating: “Having played the Old Course at Ballybunion many times since my first visit in 1981, I am now of the opinion it is one of the best and most beautiful tests of links golf anywhere in the world.”
Ballybunion is no stranger to European Tour competition, having hosted the 2000 Irish Open, won by Sweden’s Patrick Sjöland ahead of countryman Fredrik Jacobsen and Ireland’s Paul McGinley, who finished third.
With Ballybunion taking its place on the Senior Tour roster and the 2009 Irish Open being played at County Louth in Baltray, the Irish golfing public will be afforded two unmissable opportunities to watch two great tournaments played on two wonderful courses on opposite coastlines of Ireland.
Fáilte Ireland and AIB have both been associated with all 12 previous Irish Seniors Opens and Martin Cullen, T.D., Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, said: "The growth of golf in Ireland over the past 20 years has been a unique partnership between Government, public and private enterprise.
“The Government has invested significantly in a variety of events, including golf, and hosting this event on a course such as Ballybunion offers an opportunity to highlight the top class links courses for which Ireland is renowned.
“Over 194,000 overseas visitors played golf in Ireland in 2007 with revenue amounting to €167 million, delivering valuable business and offering them an opportunity to experience not only the trophy courses, but also the many hidden gems Ireland has to offer''.
Billy Andrews of AIB said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Irish Seniors Open at such a prestigious venue and we look forward to working once again with our co-sponsors, Fáilte Ireland, and the European Senior Tour.”
This will be the second successive occasion that the event has been played on a classic links following last year’s visit to Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal, where Spain’s Juan Quiros captured the title.
Simon Duffield, General Manager of Ballybunion Golf Club, said: “We at Ballybunion Golf Club are delighted to host the Irish Seniors Open in June 2009, and we look forward to extending a warm welcome to the European Senior Tour professionals, officials and the many visitors who visit our charming and challenging golf links. In particular, we welcome those who played in the Irish Open in 2000 and, of course, those visiting us for the first time.”
Charles Perring, Deputy Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, welcomed the announcement of Ballybunion as the 2009 host venue and said: “Ballybunion has few peers as a truly great test of classic links golf. We are very excited to be visiting this hauntingly beautiful part of Ireland for one of our premier events on the Senior Tour.
“On behalf of the Senior Tour Members, who will enjoy the privilege of playing the Old Course in June, I would like to thank Ballybunion, AIB and Failte Ireland – both our long term partners in the Irish Seniors Open - for their role in making the 2009 tournament one of the most eagerly awaited pleasures of the 2009 Senior Tour Schedule.”