Irish Open return to K Club could be worth over €50m

The Horizon Irish Open will return to the K Club under a long-term sponsorship deal that could be worth more than €50m over the six-year term of the deal.

The DP World Tour officially announced the partnership and in doing so secured the future of the tournament with the possibility that it could both regain its former status as a Rolex event and become a co-sanctioned event on the PGA Tour. .

The K Club, which hosted the Irish Open for the first and only time in 2016, won by Rory McIlroy, will stage the tournament in 2023, 2025 and 2027.

It has also been confirmed that Kildare resort’s second Arnold Palmer-designed course, Palmer South, will stage the Irish Challenge Tour challenge in the interim, starting in July and again in 2024 and 2026.

Earlier this year, Horizon Therapeutics, the global biotech company headquartered in Dublin, signed a six-year sponsorship deal for the Irish Open in February, starting with this year’s event at the Mount Juliet Estate from June 30 to July 3. There is a 77% price increase from €3.42m in 2020 to €5.05m this year.

Timothy P Walbert, President and CEO of Horizon Therapeutics, when asked about final tournament support, said: “In terms of specific numbers, we’re not disclosing those at this stage.”

Guy Kinnings, DP World Tour Deputy Managing Director, Ryder Cup Director and Chief Commercial Officer, was coy when asked about the Horizon Irish Open returning to its former Rolex status and whether it could be co -sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

He said: “I think Timothy responded beautifully and he’s absolutely right when he said it’s pretty clear that this is a close collaboration between the two Tours.

“This partnership grew out of the close working relationship we now have (between the Tours). I think the fact that this tournament has been singled out by the PGA Tour in terms of helping and supporting in developing this opportunity shows how much they and we think about the Horizon Irish Open. I think it has its own very unique style and that’s what’s so globally appealing.

Kinnings referred to the increase in the Irish Open prize fund and said “it puts the tournament aside at a very high echelon. We will obviously be looking to review the prize tiers every year, but our intention is to grow the event.

“The fact that the tournament can have such an impact across the island of Ireland means that we will also be looking for opportunities to play in the North and will announce them when we are ready.”

Irish Open tournament director Simon Alliss explained that they were currently in talks with venues in Northern Ireland to stage the event in 2024 and 2026, but there was nothing concrete to report. “Portstewart is always an option, Royal County Down (too).

“We were looking at Lough Erne at the start. Castlerock put their name in the mix a while ago. So we’ll go through all the names and talk to Tourism Northern Ireland about where we’re going, but can I see us returning to Northern Ireland absolutely.

pulling power

The power of attraction of the JP McManus Pro-Am which takes place on the Monday and Tuesday of the week following the Irish Open could persuade some of the best Americans to arrive a little earlier. Alliss smiled, “Everybody’s coming and it’s like a date right now.

“It’s like trying to get prom queen. We give them everything we can and try to make it as appealing as possible, but these guys will do what they want to do when they set their schedule.

This year’s tournament at Mount Juliet will once again be part of the British Open Qualifying Series, with the top three players not already exempted earning a place in the 150th edition of golf’s oldest major tournament which takes place two weeks later. on the Old Course at St Andrews. .

The Irish Challenge returned to the Challenge Tour in 2015 and has been played every year since – except 2020 due to the pandemic. The Ladies European Tour will return to Irish shores for the first time in 10 years when the Women’s Irish Open takes place at Dromoland Castle in September.

Sport Ireland have invested €3.5 million in the last five editions of the Irish Open in the Republic of Ireland, including €1 million each, last year and this year.

Dr Una May, Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, said: “It’s an exciting time for this tournament and I look forward to working with the DP World Tour and all tournament hosts over the next few years to help bring this great event to new levels of success.

“I am delighted that Sport Ireland, through its sponsorship of the Horizon Irish Open, has been able to offer two invitations to emerging Irish golfers. This will provide players with the opportunity to participate in a first-class DP World Tour event on their home soil and help them further their careers as professional golfers.