Carton House is willing to throw its hat in the ring and host the 2012 Irish Open on its Montgomerie Course for the third time.
While Killarney Golf and Fishing Club is still hopeful that it will act as host venue for the third year in a row, Conor Mallaghan, the Managing Partner at Carton House Hotel and Golf Resort, indicated last night that they are ready to welcome the event again if approached by the European Tour or its Irish Open partners.
“If the opportunity presented itself again, we’d throw our hat into the ring,” Mr Mallaghan said yesterday. “There has been some talk about it coming back to the Dublin area from Killarney but the choice of venue is a matter for the various stakeholders in the event – the European Tour, Failte Ireland and the title sponsor, if one has been found.
“While we’d be delighted to host the event once again, I must point out that this is all purely hypothetical at the moment and will remain so until the various stakeholders made their decision.
“I will say that it’s imperative that a decision is made this side of Christmas. To go into the New Year without a firm decision would not do anyone any good. From the marketing, sponsorship and ticketing perspective, it’s important to make the decision as soon as possible.”
Stephen Dodd won the 2005 Nissan Irish Open at Carton House while the following year, Thomas Bjorn emerged as champion after bad weather forced a Monday finish.
Players complained about lack of locker room space at the new venue but Carton are confident that they now have a far better product.
“We were very different in 2005 and 2006,” Mr Mallaghan said. “The course was very new and the hotel was under construction at that time but we have a vastly different product now.
“Effectively we were a building site the last time the Irish Open came here. Access for spectators and car parking were limited and we didn’t have the catering facilities and hospitality we have now. Having a hotel on site would be of major advantage to the event.
“The Montgomerie Course is a different golf course now. It was set-up very tough in 2005 and 2006. It was young golf course and the rough was very thick but it has matured nicely.”
While the tour has made no secret of the fact that it is keen to return to the Dublin area, Killarney’s general manager Maurice O’Meara has heard nothing from Wentworth and remains hopeful that the Co Kerry resort will again host the event at its new June 28-July 1 date.
“No decision has been made yet by the European Tour and we are still hopeful that the Irish Open will be played in Killarney next year,” he said. “We really are looking forward to staging it or the third time and, once again, the whole town will throw its weight behind the event.”
As for the change of date from the August Bank Holiday weekend to the end of June, he added: “The summer festival was actually moved back to the August Bank Holiday to coincide with the Irish Open - it used be on the same in the same week as that proposed for next year’s tournament so the date change is ideal for us.”