Ian Woosnam is hoping for more success on Irish soil next month when he defends the Handa Irish Seniors Open presented by Fáilte Ireland at Carton House from June 11-13.
The Welshman has enjoyed some of the best moments of his career in Ireland, winning back-to-back Irish Open titles in 1988 and 1989 before leading Europe to Ryder Cup glory at The K Club in 2006.
He added the Irish Seniors Open title to that impressive list last year when he overturned a six shot deficit going into the final round to join American Bob Boyd in a play-off, eventually capturing the title on the third extra hole.
That was his third European Senior Tour victory and helped him to finish runner up on the Order of Merit behind another former Ryder Cup Captain, Sam Torrance.
The pair will battle it out again over Carton House’s Montgomerie Course – designed by the current Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie – along with Sandy Lyle and Irish stars including Eamonn Darcy and Des Smyth.
Woosnam is targeting a victory in the €250,000 event as he attempts to reclaim the John Jacobs Trophy he won as leading Senior Tour player in his rookie season in 2008.
“I’ve had some great success in Ireland over the years, winning the Irish Open twice and of course with The Ryder Cup in 2006, so it is always special to return,” he said.
“I played in the Irish Open on the regular Tour on both of the occasions it was hosted at Carton House – in 2005 and 2006 – and it will be a tough test for us, just as Ballybunion was last year.
“After the start I had last year I didn’t expect to win but it was great to overturn a six shot deficit on the final day.
“My other two Senior Tour titles were in Poland and Russia and unfortunately I did not get chance to defend them so this is the first time I will play a Senior Tour event as a defending champion.
“I’m still searching for a bit of form at the moment but with the run of tournaments we have coming up I’m hopeful I will be ready to defend my crown by the time we head to Carton House.”
New title sponsor for 2010, the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS)and its Chairman Dr Haruhisa Handa, supports several events across the European Senior Tour in a collaboration to raise the awareness of the International Blind Golf Association.
Dr. Handa, who is also a Patron and International Ambassador of the European Senior Tour, said: “Having supported European Senior Tour events in Brunei, Thailand and shortly at Stapleford Park, this is the fourth tournament ISPS is sponsoring this year. I am delighted that our three ISPS
Ambassadors, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, will all be at Carton House to compete for the title and endorse the work of the ISPS.
“The Handa Irish Senior Open will continue to provide an opportunity for the ISPS to promote golf to a diverse audience and raise awareness for blind golf. We believe that golf should be accessible to as many people as possible and through our partnership with the International Blind Golf Association (IBGA) we hope that this format of the sport will continue to grow.”
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, said: “The Irish Senior Open is one of the longest running tournaments on the European Senior Tour schedule and we always look forward to returning to some warm Irish hospitality.
“Over the years we have been blessed with some illustrious champions, including Ryder Cup stars Costantino Rocca, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, who won the title in spectacular fashion last year. We expect some more excitement next month at Carton House, which will be a fantastic host venue.”
Fáilte Ireland, which has supported the Senior Tour event since its inception at St Margarets Golf Club in 1997, continues its long term association with the tournament.
Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, said: “On behalf of Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, we are delighted to support this key tournament as part of the European Senior Tour’s 2010 schedule.
“As we all appreciate, golf in Ireland has long been a major tourism attraction and the Handa Irish Seniors Open is one of our key assets for promoting golf in Ireland. We are delighted to welcome Handa as the new sponsor for the Irish Seniors Open and I wish to congratulate Conor Mallaghan and his team at Carton House on their selection as host venue.
“Golf tourism is very important for Ireland - generating almost 141,000 visitors annually as well as revenue for this country amounting to in excess of €105m. Events such as this will help us to maintain and, indeed, build on this achievement.”
David Webster, General Manager of Carton House Golf Club, said: “We are delighted to welcome top European golf back to Carton House and we are all looking forward to watching the leading players on the European Senior Tour, including defending champion Ian Woosnam who has enjoyed so much success here in Ireland over the years.
“We trust the players will enjoy the challenge of playing the Montgomerie Course and we look forward to a fantastic tournament here on Dublin’s doorstep.”