Fota closes in on Irish Open

Cork’s Fota Island resort is closing in on a deal to bring the Irish Open back to Munster next June.

Productive talks between the European Tour and Fota resort representatives are likely to reach a positive conclusion before Christmas.

The financial muscle of the 780-acre resort’s new Chinese owners has helped table a persuasive package that the cash-strapped European Tour will find difficult to ignore as it ponders a venue for the June 19-22 event.

Carton House was considered favourite to retain the event before Fota and Druid’s Glen brought proposals to the Tour.

The Fota resort, which last hosted the Irish Open in 2002, was sold in August to the Kang family for around €20m, with the new owners seeking to bring an international golf tournament back to their 27-hole complex.

Carton appears to have conceded defeat in their attempt to retain the event with sources close to the committee at the Kildare venue insisting they “have given up the ghost” and assume the event is heading south.

Fota Island’s Director of Marketing, Seamus Leahy, confirmed recently that they have been speaking to the European Tour. He said: “We are chatting about it, seeing what they want from us and seeing what we can give them. Whether that is us putting cash in or helping find a sponsor — there is good corporate interest down here — or whether various players’ needs would be served, all those things would be discussed.”

With Ireland’s Big Four of Rory McIlroy, Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke all missing the cut this year, the 2013 Open at Carton House struggled to attract big crowds and break even.

There is still no news of a title sponsor but the Tour will be looking for interest from local sponsors in Cork if Fota gets the nod. The Tour has taken some persuading that the southern province has the financial clout to take it from the greater Dublin area but they now appear upbeat a financial package is in place to meet their bottom line requirement.


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