The Team Ireland Golf Trust today announced grants totaling €157,000 to fifteen aspiring golfers who are pursuing their careers on professional golf tours - a reduction of €50,000 on last year.
Rebecca Coakley and Martina Gillen will receive grants of €15,000 to assist their campaigns on the Ladies European Tour. Rebecca’s main target for the year is to qualify for the European Solheim Cup Team, the event will be held in Killeen Castle in September.
A grant of €15,000 is awarded to Niall Kearney and Jonathan Caldwell as they seek to make on impact on the PGA Challenge Tour. County Cork golfer Niall Turner, a product of the US collegiate system, has won his card for the Asian Tour and receives a grant of €15,000 to support his first year of campaigning there.
Three players are receiving grants from Team Ireland who have graduated from the amateur ranks in the last year. They are Seamus Power, who will play on the eGolf Tour in the US, Dara Lernihan, who will play on the Alps Tour and Cian Curley, who will play on the Eurpro Tour.
The Minister of State for Sport and Tourism, Mr Michael Ring TD, welcomed the allocation of the grants: “Irish golf enjoyed another very successful year in 2010. This outstanding sporting achievement is also important for the golf industry in Ireland which is an essential element of the tourism sector. The Team Ireland Golf Trust, which is unique in Europe, is an important part of the golf story in Ireland as it supports professional golfers at the start of their tour careers. The impact of these golfers in recent years is also a tribute to the excellent work of the GUI and ILGU in improving the standards of golf in Ireland.”
As part of the support package, all golfers can avail of the world class facilities at the GUI’s National Academy at Carton House. The golfers on the scheme also have free access to the network of service providers such as physiologists, sports psychologists, biomechanists, physiotherapists and doctors coordinated by the Institute of Sport at Abbotstown.
This is the twelfth year of the scheme, which has provided €2.75 million in financial support to golfers to date. The Trust aims to contribute to an increase in the presence of Irish golf professionals on the various international tours. The total budget for the Trust in 2011 is down on previous years as it is now solely funded by the Irish Sports Council in partnership with Failte Ireland.
Many established players on the main European Tour have benefited from the Trust including Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Gary Murphy, Michael Hoey, Gareth Maybin and Shane Lowry. The Irish PGA, the Golfing Union of Ireland, and the Irish Ladies Golf Union on the Golf Trust committee, which is chaired by Mr. Padarig O’hUiginn who said: “The Trust was established with a very specific goal in mind, increasing the number of Irish golfers competing and winning on the top tours. We believe the value of the Trust is demonstrated by the presence of many successful Irish golfers in international competition. This brings enormous benefits to the game at home, not least by highlighting Ireland as an important golf tourism destination”.
John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council commented “Professional golf is a tough business and it is important to support talented golfers at the beginning of the careers. The Council is committed to the continuation of the Team Ireland Golf Trust as it makes a significant contribution to the sport of golf in this country.”
Ireland top female professional golfer Rebecca Coakley is in Agadir this week to compete on at the Ladies European Tour Event. The Carlow golfer commented: “I have been very fortunate to have received backing from the Golf Trust over the years. The grant this year will have a huge impact on me not only financially but mentally. It allows me to focus on my goals for the year with out the financial worries that come with being a Professional Golfer. This in return helps me focus on making the Solheim Cup Team.”
Niall Turner from Cork plans to concentrate on the Asian Tour. “Team Ireland’s support over the last three years has been vital in my progression as a professional golfer. Team Ireland provides the perfect support structure needed to pursue a career in professional golf. Their financial support, along with coaching and facility help, has allowed me to continually improve my game. I will be playing on the Asian tour along with co-sanctioned European tour events in 2011 and look forward to continued success.”
Niall Kearney from Royal Dublin is in Kenya this week at a Challenge Tour event: “My plan for 2011 is to secure a European Tour card for the 2012 season. I will be concentrating mainly on the Challenge Tour this season and will be planning to play approx 23 events. The financial support I receive will go a long way towards covering my expenses for the 2011 season.”
Team Ireland Golf Grant Allocations 2011
Name Tour Grant
1. Martina Gillen Ladies European Tour €15,000
2. Rebecca Coakley Ladies European Tour €15,000
3. Jonathan Caldwell PGA Challenge Tour €15,000
4. Niall Kearney PGA Challenge Tour €15,000
5. Niall Turner Asian Tour €15,000
6. Simon Thornton PGA Challenge Tour €10,000
7. Tara Delaney LET Access Tour €10,000
8. Gareth Shaw PGA Challenge Tour €10,000
9. Seamus Power E Golf Tour United States €10,000
10. Michael McGeady PGA Challenge Tour €7,000
11. Richard Kilpatrick Alps Tour €7,000
12. Paul O’Hanlon Europro Tour €7,000
13. Brendan McCarroll Europro Tour €7,000
14. Dara Lernihan Alps Tour €7,000
15. Cian Curley Europro Tour €7,000
Details of Some Leading Players
Rebecca Coakley (Co. Carlow) - €15,000
Rebecca is Ireland’s foremost professional golfer on the Ladies European Tour. She finished 36th on the LET 2010 Money List with earnings of €61,637 and has a full card for 2011. Her aims for 2011 are to finish in the top 20 on the Order of Merit, record a first win on tour and to make the Solheim Cup team. She is currently joint 18th in the Solheim Cup standings.
Martina Gillen (Co. Cavan) - €15,000
Martina is in her fifth year as a professional golfer on the Ladies European Tour. She finished 105th on the 2010 Let Money List with earnings of €14,204. and lost her card. She regained at her card at Tour School and will have a full schedule of events on the LET for 2011. Martina aims to hold onto to her tour card in 2011 and to improve her position on the LET Order of Merit.
Niall Kearney (Co. Dublin) - €15,000
Niall is in his second year as a professional golfer. His first season on the Challenge Tour in 2010 was hampered by injury. He is fully recovered from the injury and regained his Challenge Tour status at European Qualifying Schoolwhere he finished in 67th place. He will play a full tournament schedule on the Challenge Tour in 2011. Niall’s aims in 2011 are to become a tournament winner and to achieve a European Tour card.
Niall Turner (Co. Cork) - €15,000
Niall Turner is in his 4th as a professional golfer. Niall achieved a card on the Asian Tour at the Qualifying School in January. He will be playing a minimum of 16 events on the Asian Tour in 2011 and has the opportunity of playing in co-sanctioned events European Tour and the Asian Tour. Niall’s aims for 2011 are to win an event on tour and to achieve European Tour or US Tour status.
Jonathan Caldwell (Co. Down) - €15,000
Jonathan is in his third year as a professional golfer following an impressive amateur career. He will concentrate on playing on the Challenge Tour in 2011. He aims to achieve European Tour status, which he held before in 2009, by finishing in the top 20 on the Challenge Tour or through the Qualifying School.