The appearance of four-time Major winning Rory McIlroy to compete in the grand opening on Friday of the revamped Adare Manor course is a good news story on its own.
Adare Manor / Image from Irish Golfer Magazine
McIlroy, along with his wife Erica, jettted-in from Florida on Thursday ahead of the current World No. 7 joining fellow Irishmen Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Paul McGinley in an event to officially open the Tom Fazio redesigned Adare Manor course. And McIlroy headed straight for the 18th green where he and Harrington worked on their games ahead of taking to the course for a nine-hole practice round.
Arriving later on Thursday was European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, accompanied by his predecessor, George O’Grady.
The appearance of Pelley would strongly suggest the European Tour is looking seriously at the venue for a future main European Tour event and/or as a Ryder Cup venue.
There are already suggestions that the revamp has been undertaken to attract the 2026 Ryder Cup and that if Italy default as hosts in 2022 then Adare Manor could fill the breach in just four years time.
What Pelley will see is an Adare Manor totally transformed by Fazio and his design team since Harrington won an inaugural Irish Open in 2007 and a year later when England’s Richard Finch tumbled backwards into the River Maigue in playing his second shot into the 72nd hole en-route to victory in 2008.
The entire course was dug-up, with some 220,000 tonnes of sand laid down to better help drainage. All 18 greens now have a sub-air system while there are 17,003 square metres of bent breen approach surfaces into the greens, and once on the greens there are 12,055 square metres of bent grass putting surfaces.
The new-look Adare Manor also boasts 127 newly-planted mature trees while there are an additional 12 new stone bridges and many on the River Maigue that cuts through the course. A team of 50 greens staff have also been employed to maintain the layout.
Fazio has turned the course into one of the finest inland venues in Ireland, with most observers believing his work, commissioned by Adare Manor owner J P McManus, a move that will see the 2026 Ryder Cup being staged there.
“To come back here where I won my Irish Open in 2007 has been very interesting to see how Tom has revamped the course but then it’s been great that Tom has sought my advice and if we had ideas on how a hole should be changed or whatever, we talked about it,” said Harrington.
“For the most part we were both on the same page. It’s been interesting for me as I have never seen anything on this scale before in terms of redesigning an entire golf course, and to listen to Tom and understand his expertise when it comes to golf course design has been a strong learning point for me,” he added.
“As a player, I would turn-up at a golf course and it is very easy to play 18 holes and see something on the course that you may think is wrong and that you like to change. But to be here at Adare Manor when Tom began his redesign work from really a blank canvas has been really interesting. So, to be back to Adare Manor and see the finished product is truly remarkable.”
There are others, however, including McIlroy who believe the uncertainly of Italy hosting the 2022 Ryder Cup could see Ireland play host to the biennial event and, if so, Harrington could well captain Europe.
One thing is certain, the JP McManus Pro-Am is to be held from July 6th to 7th in 2020 as the first real ‘high profile’ event on the Fazio layout located just to the south-west of Limerick.
The inaugural JP McManus Pro-Am was staged in 1990 and then every five years ahead of The Open at St. Andrews, including 2000 when then World No. 1 Tiger Woods competed before then heading to St. Andrews to win by eight shots for his first of three Open Championships.
McIlroy, Harrington, Lowry and McGinley will tee-up near lunchtime today with 1,300 tickets sold at Euro 100 a ticket to see McIlroy team with McGinley against the pairing of Lowry and Harrington with a Euro 350,000 first prize, and with the prizemoney to be donated to local charaties.
The runners-up will receive Euro 150,000 to donate with the beneficiaries including The Rory Foundation, The McGinley Foundation, Temple Street Childrens Hospital and the Padraig Harrington Chairtable Foundation.
Local and overseas media have been brought in to report on the opening ceremony and with McIlroy and his wife to remain in Ireland until Sunday, the day of their first wedding anniversary when they return to Flordia.
Harrington and Lowry will be headed Monday to the Zurich Classic in New Orleans where they are partners in the PGA Tour’s $7.2m team event on the TPC Louisana course.