The Team Ireland Golf Trust today announced grants totaling €139,000 to 15 aspiring golfers - a reduction of 11.4 percent on the €157,000 awarded to 15 players last year.
More than €3 million has been provided to golf professionals since the scheme was introduced in 1999 and past recipients such as Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Michael Hoey, Shane Lowry and Rebecca Codd are enjoying extended and successful careers as touring professionals.
Rookie professionals Paul Cutler and Danielle McVeigh, and Dubliner Niall Kearney are the top recipients with €15,000 each.
Simon Thornton, who will receive €10,000, regained his full European Tour Card at Tour School at the end of 2011. New recipients in 2012 include Ballymena’s Chris Devlin and Limerick’s Cian McNamara, who will both play on the Challenge Tour.
Minister of State for Sport and Tourism, Mr Michael Ring TD, welcomed the allocation of the grants:“Irish golf is flying high this week. The exploits of our top golfers are a great advertisement for this country. It is important to nurture the young talent coming through so that we can maintain a strong presence on all the major tours.”
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.
The Team Ireland Golf Trust aims to contribute to an increase in the presence of Irish golf professionals on the various international tours. The success of professional golfers on tour also helps to promote Ireland as a golf tourism destination worldwide.
While less money has been handed out, the total budget for the Trust in 2012 is the same as 2011 and is now solely funded by the Irish Sports Council in partnership with Fáilte Ireland.
The Irish PGA, the Golfing Union of Ireland, and the Irish Ladies Golf Union are represented on the Golf Trust committee, which is chaired by Mr. Padraig 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 “Ireland is very proud of the success of its outstanding golfers in recent years. It is important to support all the golf organisations and the individual golfers to ensure that the game remains healthy and that we have a strong representation in all the professional tournaments.
“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”.
Cutler said: “I am starting my first full season as a professional and I am delighted to hear that the Team Ireland Golf Trust has again been incredibly generous in supporting me.
“I have been working very hard in the off season and I have a busy schedule of tournaments ahead in 2012, so I’m really looking forward to it. But none of this would be possible without funding, and I would like to sincerely thank everyone at the Team Ireland Golf Trust and the Irish Sports Council for their continued support.”
Thornton said: “Quite simply without the help of the Team Ireland Golf Trust I would not be playing on the European Tour.
“The Trust has played an invaluable part in enabling me to move up the tours and continued to help me once I gained my European Tour card for 2010 and for this 2012 season.
“With the help of the Trust I plan to plan to play in 25 - 30 events this year and my obvious goal is to keep my tour card.
“With the experience and confidence I gained over the last two years playing the European and Challenge Tours I feel I am in a position to do this. I wish to thank the Trust and the Irish Sports Council for their invaluable support over the years.”
Kearney, who is currently competing in Colombia on the Challenge Tour, said: “I very much appreciate the support I receive from the ISC and TIGT.
“The financial grant has given me the opportunity to compete at the highest level all over the world and gain valuable experience as a professional golfer that would otherwise not be possible.
“I have worked very hard on my game over the winter months and expect good things out of myself in 2012. My main goals for 2012 are to win on the Challenge Tour and gain my European Tour card.”
McVeigh, who will compete on the LET Access Tour, welcomed the grant, explaining: “I am delighted to receive funding, without it I wouldn’t be able to compete in the tournaments.
“This helps me in the process of becoming the best golfer I can be, and without the support of the Irish Sports Council it wouldn’t be possible.”
Delaney, who will compete on the LET Access Tour, commented: “I have been very fortunate to receive financial and specialist support from the Team Ireland Golf Trust and the Institute of Sport since turning professional.
“Without this I would not have been able to compete to the extent I have in recent years. TIGT has helped me to mature as a golfer and thanks to their continued support my main aim for the year now is to continue working hard and ultimately to regain full playing rights on tour.”
Coakley, Martina Gillen, Michael McGeady, Paul O’Hanlon - all of whom received funding in 2011 - have not received grants this season.
Team Ireland Golf Trust grant allocations 2012
- Paul Cutler European Tour/Challenge Tour €15,000
- Niall Kearney Challenge Tour €15,000
- Simon Thornton European Tour €10,000
- Jonathan Caldwell Challenge Tour/Europro Tour €10,000
- Niall Turner Asian Tour/Europro Tour €10,000
- Seamus Power E Golf Tour United States €10,000
- Chris Devlin Challenge Tour €10,000
- Cian McNamara Challenge Tour €10,000
- Tara Delaney LET Access Tour €7,000
- Danielle McVeigh LET Access Tour €7,000
- Gareth Shaw Alps Tour €7,000
- Richard Kilpatrick Alps Tour €7,000
- Brendan McCarroll Alps Tour €7,000
- Dara Lernihan Alps Tour €7,000
- Cian Curley Europro Tour €7,000