Lough Erne to host 2017 Irish Open

Published Thursday, 03 April 2014
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The European Tour has announced that the Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland at the Lough Erne Resort in 2017.

Lough Erne to host 2017 Irish Open
First Minister Peter Robinson has welcomed the announcement. (© Presseye)

The competition is already taking place in Royal County Down Golf Course next year between May 28 and 31.

The event's return to the region is only the second time in the past 60 years it has been held in Northern Ireland and follows on from the successful 2012 tournament in Portrush.

The Co Antrim tournament, won by Jamie Donaldson, was the first time in European Tour history that an event has been sold out.

Following an agreement between The European Tour, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the event will return to Northern Ireland for the 12th time in Fermanagh in 2017.

It will be the first time the Lough Erne Resort has hosted the competition.         

We all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing an Irish Open in Northern Ireland two years ago so it is fantastic news that we will have another chance in 2015 and again in 2017.         

Rory McIlroy

George O'Grady, chief executive of The European Tour, said: "The Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 captured the imagination of the country after a lengthy absence, and we are delighted to confirm that the tournament will be back in Northern Ireland next year, at another magnificent links venue in Royal County Down, before returning again in 2017 at Lough Erne Resort.

"We must acknowledge the vision and commitment of First Minister Peter Robinson, Minister Arlene Foster, and their colleagues within the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to secure the return of the Irish Open to Northern Ireland in 2015 and 2017, which further underlines the country's presence on the world stage following the outstanding achievements of its players in recent years.

"Indeed, it was Rory McIlroy's inspired suggestion to me during the 2013 BMW Masters in China that proved to be the catalyst for this announcement, and we are confident that our players will relish the chance to compete for the Irish Open title at this iconic links course next year."

Making the announcement at Royal County Down Golf Club, First Minister Peter Robinson said: "When Northern Ireland hosted the 2012 Irish Open we staged an incredibly successful event, which not only exceeded our own expectations but it also became the first European Tour event in history to sell out.

"More than 130,000 spectators travelled to the north coast to see the world's golfing elite in action and the feel-good factor that it generated created a huge sense of civic pride.

"I have no doubt that next year's event at Royal County Down will be equally successful.

"In addition to having three major golfing champions, Northern Ireland is home to arguably the best concentration of great golf courses in the world. With the Irish Open secured for 2015 and 2017, we look forward to building on the legacy of events such as the Irish Open in Royal Portrush in 2012, last year's highly successful G8 Summit and the World Police and Fire Games," the DUP leader said.   

It’s great to hear the Irish Open will return to the north in 2015 and 2017. There are few better golf courses in the world to play than Royal County Down so it’s all good as far as I am concerned.

Graeme McDowell

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "The 2015 Irish Open being staged at Royal County Down and 2017 Irish Open at the Lough Erne Golf course is tremendous news not just for golf fans but for all of us.

"Securing the 2015 and 2017 competitions will be a significant boost for the tourism industry and wider economy.

"The success of local golfers on the international stage offers us the perfect platform to promote the north of Ireland.

"I thank The European Tour for their vote of confidence."

The Sinn Féin MLA added: "High profile sporting events like the Irish Open generates global exposure and the Executive is determined to play its part in making the events a resounding success.

"The Executive supported Royal Portrush in 2012, which had record breaking attendances, and I am confident the 2015 and 2017 competitions will be just as successful."

© UTV News
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