Fota: Hard to match success of Irish Open

Fota Island’s massive success as an Irish Open venue is no guarantee the event will return to the Cork resort in 2016.

The European Tour must keep Tourism Ireland happy and, with Fota Island appearing reluctant to try and better what was the perfect week again in 2016, the focus for all interested parties now turns to finding a title sponsor that can boost the prize fund beyond €2m.

With the Chinese owners of Fota Island putting €500,000 into the event, Fáilte Ireland reduced its investment by €250,000 this year to €1m. However, European Tour chief executive George O’Grady is confident the Government will not back away now.

James Finnigan, commercial director of the Open, said: “Both governments [north and south] would like a private sector company to become the title sponsor and that’s what we are working with them on.”

Fota Island chief executive Jonathan Woods was ecstatic with the event’s success: “We’re delighted, the resort has been shown all over the world in glorious sunshine and everybody seems to be very happy. We’ve had huge, record-breaking crowds, so as a resort we couldn’t have asked for any more. Any title sponsor would play a key role in it [returning to Fota]. If some large multinational based in Cork was to come on board they may look at Fota as a partner.”

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