Golf Ireland pushing for return of Irish Women’s Open

John Craven
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Leona Maguire (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Determined to capitalise on a wave of momentum following Leona Maguire’s record-breaking success at the Solheim Cup, Golf Ireland CEO Mark Kennelly has confirmed that talks have taken place to revive the Irish Women’s Open, last seen on Irish shores in 2012.

Cavan professional Maguire was the standout performer at the Solheim Cup, putting 4.5 out of a possible 5 points on the board for Team Europe, the highest individual total by a European in the 31-year history of the event.

Images of the victorious 26-year old draped in a tri-colour were beamed around the world and although Maguire’s performance is an undoubted highlight for Irish women’s golf this year, the likes of two-time Olympian Stephanie Meadow, recently turned pro Olivia Mehaffey and Ireland’s highest ranked amateur, male or female, Lauren Walsh have all excelled elsewhere, leading to calls for a return of the Irish Women’s Open to showcase all that is great about women’s golf in Ireland.

“To me, it’s a glaring gap in the Irish golfing calendar,” Kennelly told the Irish Examiner.

“It’s fantastic that we have two global events on the horizon in the Open in Royal Portrush in 2025 and the Ryder Cup in Adare Manor in 2027, yet we haven’t had a Women’s Irish Open for over a decade. It’s something we were discussing with the relevant parties before the Solheim Cup, but Leona’s performance at it has put it even higher on the agenda.

“At the elite level, the prospects for Irish golf on the women’s side are very strong. Stephanie Meadow finished seventh in the Olympics. Olivia Mehaffey has just turned professional, and we have a number of top players through the high performance programme [under director Neil Manchip]. We want Irish women and girls to see these top players, and not just the Irish ones playing on Irish soil. And we want Irish boys, especially from non-traditional backgrounds, to see a Leona on Irish soil and think: ‘Maybe I could break through too’.”

Off the back of her success in the Solheim, Maguire led calls for the return of the Irish Women’s Open upon her homecoming at PGA National Slieve Russell.

“I’d rather see an Irish Open back,” was Maguire’s response when asked if she’d like to see the Solheim return to the country.

“That was an incredible boost to me as an amateur, getting to play with Suzann Pettersen at Killeen Castle and Portmarnock as a 15, 16-year old. The experience I gained playing in them was invaluable.

“I remember in Killeen Castle the crowds being five or six people deep and that was long before any 20×20 campaigns or anything like that. I think getting it back would be massive in inspiring a new generation of Irish golfers, both girls and boys. People got a glimpse of it last week on the telly with the Solheim Cup. There is an appetite there for it.”

And Maguire will be pleased to learn that far from just paying lip-service to the idea, Golf Ireland are leading the charge to make this a reality, determined to provide increased promotion and media exposure for the women’s game.

It would be expected, though not confirmed, that the event would be hosted in the Republic of Ireland given the ongoing success of the ISPS Handa World Invitational that unites the stars of the European Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA each year at Galgorm Castle and Massereene. Watch this space.

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One response to “Golf Ireland pushing for return of Irish Women’s Open”

  1. Martin Hayes avatar

    Good but they shouldn’t’t need to push for it as ought to be in golfing calendar already

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