KILLARNEY Golf and Fishing Club got the European Tour’s seal of approval after Irish Open organisers paid their first visit of the year to the venue.
Championship director Ben Watson and his colleagues from the European Tour were at the club last month to assess the Killeen Course 13 weeks out from the showpiece tournament, which starts on July 28.
“It’s looking great,” Watson said. “It’s come out of the winter pretty well.
“It was a very hard winter and we’ve had our agronomy team down there having a look and they’ve put a plan in place with the course superintendent Dave MacIndoe.
“The course held up very well last year. It was a great track and the guys loved it.
“They thought it worked out very well and it’s just a case of developing it from last year and providing a good, fair test for all the field.”
Watson added that “developing” the set-up did not necessarily mean making it any more challenging than when Ross Fisher held off Pádraig Harrington last August Bank Holiday weekend to win by two strokes at 18 under par.
“Not specifically. You want to make sure it’s fair and we were blessed last year with four great days of weather and that naturally makes things easier for the guys.
“But I don’t think you want to make it difficult necessarily. You want to make sure the whole field, the 150 players, whenever they tee off, have a good, fair challenge. That’s what we strive to do all the way through the tournament.
“I think everyone thought last year’s winning score was a very fair reflection of the test it provided and I hope we would provide much more of the same and see what happens.”
Watson believes the quality of the field on display at Killarney in July rather than a tricked up golf course will provide all the necessary entertainment for the 2011 Irish Open.
“It’s providing a challenge for every player and getting a good winner out of it.
“And the quality that we have in depth on the European Tour provides a drama and a challenge in itself.
“As we’ve seen both before and since last year’s event, the European Tour has such an incredible strength in depth of golfers.
“We are blessed with a great strength of competitor in our fields and that produces great finishes week in, week out.
Anyone that wins a European Tour event in any week has played an immense four rounds of golf.”
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