The Ladies European Tour has confirmed that the Women’s Irish Open will return to its calendar next year for the first time since 2012 at a venue yet to be confirmed from September 22-25, 2022.
The 2022 Ladies European Tour season is set to present the greatest number of tournaments and prize money in the organisation’s 44-year history. Thanks to the support of new and long-term partners, LET members will compete for a minimum of €24.5 million across 31 events in 2022. The total annual purse is up €4.5m on 2021 and offers €13m more than in 2019
Scottish legend Catriona Mathews last captured the Women’s Irish Open title at Killeen Castle all those years ago but in the intervening years, the success of Irish women golfers at home and abroad has been impossible to ignore, not least Leona Maguire’s record-breaking success at this year’s Solheim Cup.
Cavan rookie sensation Maguire was the standout performer. in Ohio, 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 then 26-year old draped in a tri-colour were beamed around the world and although Maguire’s performance was an undoubted highlight for Irish women’s golf this year, the likes of two-time Olympian Stephanie Meadow retaining her LPGA Tour card, Arizona State icon turned pro Olivia Mehaffey and Ireland’s highest ranked amateur, male or female, Lauren Walsh (17th on WAGR) 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.
Off the back of her success in the Solheim, Maguire led calls for the return of the tournament at her homecoming at PGA National Slieve Russell.
“I’d love to see an Irish Open back,” Maguire said.
“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 so it’s proved. Although a venue has yet to be confirmed for the return of the Women’s Irish Open, whichever course claims hosting rights is onto a winner, no doubt set to capitalise on a wave of momentum behind not just women’s golf, but women’s sport in Ireland.
As Maguire points out, rubbing shoulders with the best players in the world worked wonders for her game as a starry-eyed teen, and given the talent coming off the conveyer belt in Ireland without such access for the best part of a decade, there’s no telling how many more global stars this island can unearth off the back of such exposure.
It’s a huge motivational boost for the likes of Lurgan’s Annabel Wilson, Elm Park’s Anna Foster, Forrest Little’s Julie McCarthy and Douglas’ Sara Byrne who all continue to make their mark on the amateur scene, both for Ireland and collegiately across the Atlantic, while the likes of Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter, who was the number 7 pick in America when joining Arizona State last month, will no doubt be gunning for an invite having represented Ireland with such passion in team competition over the years.
This has been a long time coming, but congratulations to everyone involved in making it happen. It’s overdue, but this is beyond better later than never. Plenty of lip-service is paid to plugging the gender gap in sport. This is proper action, recognition the women’s game in Ireland has gone without for too long, and I’ve no doubt that with the support of the Irish people behind the event, there’ll be no fear of the Women’s Irish Open dropping off the calendar again.
- To see the full 2022 LET schedule click here.