Strong field to battle Lahinch Old in Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

The sixth hole at Lahinch offers a striking view of Liscannor Bay. Irish pro Christy O’ Connor Jr., Europe’s hero in the 1989 Ryder Cup, called it the one of the best par-4s in the world. Hard to argue with him.

Lovers of links golf, natural beauty and legendary layouts enjoy a treat this week as the Lahinch Old Course plays host to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the first time.

Ranked No. 35 in the world, Lahinch is nestled on Ireland’s west coast, “The Wild Atlantic Way,” and has been a treasured favorite of PerryGolf clients for decades.

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The layout has also been a regular host for elite amateur championships over the last 127 years, however this is its first foray as an European Tour host. The event, which starts Thursday, is the largest sporting event ever held in County Clare and has injected energy into the village and money into the economy. More than 10 million pounds were spent on the course and village in preparation according to the Irish Times and another 6-7 million pounds are expected to be generated this week.

Located 60 miles south of Galway and 45 miles west of Limerick, the course has welcomed many esteemed guests through the years. Byron Nelson visited in the 1960s. Phil Mickelson toured the course in 1991 prior to the Walker Cup matches, has returned on other occasions and was granted honorary membership. In 2009, Stewart Cink prepared for The Open at Lahinch while the man he defeated in that championship, Tom Watson, considers the course one of his favorites. Read more about the character of Lahinch and the characters who have passed through.

Lahinch enjoys an illustrious architectural history. Old Tom Morris designed the original 18 holes in 1892. The unknown Charles “Mo” Gibson made changes in 1907. The great Dr. Alister MacKenzie (Royal Melbourne West, Cypress Point) renovated portions in 1927, although chunks of his work were lost to the sea. In recent times, Dr. Martin Hawtree and his team have overseen changes.

Lahinch will make the finest and most popular golf course that I, 
or I believe anyone else, ever constructed.”

Dr. Alister MacKenzie (1926)

The course offers views of the ocean – though it’s not really in play for most golfers – large grassy dunes, beautiful vistas and the firm, springy turf that characterizes courses in the linksland. From a strategic standpoint, hearty par-4s are the essence of the layout, as No. 3, 6, 10 and 17 feature a possible long iron approach shot to a shallow, sloping green complex.

Hole #10

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has attracted a strong field, although next weekend’s World Golf Championship tournament in Memphis probably kept some highly ranked American professionals from crossing the Atlantic to play Lahinch.

The betting favorite is Jon Rahm, fresh off a tie for 2nd in last week’s Andalucia Masters – held at another jewel in the PerryGolf lineup, Valderrama, which played host to the 1997 Ryder Cup.

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Joining the talented young Spaniard in the field are familiar stars from the European circuit such as Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Wallace, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who won the 2000 South of Ireland Amateur Championship here.

Of course, all eyes of professional golf and all of the game’s best players will arrive in Ireland in two weeks for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. PerryGolf clients will attend the final round with co-founder Colin Dalgleish (only one golf spot remains) and play a loaded roster of British Isles offerings as they cruise from Edinburgh to Southampton.

PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider for The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open or Open Championship). Golfers and golf fans wanting to experience the game’s oldest championship at Royal St. George’s next summer can do so on the 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise

Golf Channel coverage of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to tune in and become better acquainted with a course worth knowing.

Portmarnock shines for Amateur; The 148th Open field taking shape

The 4th hole at Portmarnock is majestic.

The Amateur Championship (sometimes referred to as the British Amateur) was held last weekend at Portmarnock Golf Club, crowning an Irish champion, the 22-year-old James Sugrue in front of a large partisan gallery.

Sugrue joins an elite list of golf legends who have competed and won at Portmarnock, which is 10 miles north of Dublin City along a picturesque coastline. Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer partnered to win the Canada Cup in 1960 while Phil Mickelson and David Duval led the Americans to victory in the 1991 Walker Cup matches.

The course has played host to numerous championships over the last 120 years, beginning with the 1899 Irish Amateur Open Championship, won by John Ball, the finest amateur of the era, and was a regular site for the Irish Open from 1927 to 2003. The noted golf architect Martin Hawtree made minor renovations to the layout in 2003, stretching it to 7,466 yards and competitors in last week’s Amateur Championship raved about the course conditions.

Golfers who choose the Norman Flight on PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise (which includes attendance at The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s) will enjoy golf at Portmarnock and Royal Portrush, home of The 148th Open, which begins next month. They’ll play six rounds total on the 14-night voyage onboard the 690-guest Azamara Pursuit.

Golfers in the Lyle Flight will play two more of Ireland’s finest, the K Club Palmer Course – site of the 2006 Ryder Cup matches – and Royal County Down, which Golf Magazine in 2017 ranked No. 4 in the world – trailing only Pine Valley, Cypress Point and The Old Course at St. Andrews.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/british-golf-the-open-championship-past-winners-champions.php

Alwoodley was Alister’s first masterpiece

Among the host sites were gems such as Panmure, located near Carnoustie on the east coast of Scotland. It’s the 16th oldest course in the world, designed by James Braid Jr. in 1845. With the championship being held in Ireland for the first time since 1951, having a regional qualifier at County Louth, a two-time Irish Open host, made perfect sense. Alwoodley is a heathland beauty and the first course designed by the legendary architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who was a charter member there. Harry S. Colt, a top architect of the era, approved MacKenzie’s layout, propelling a unparalleled career that produced Augusta National, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne (West), Royal St. George’s and dozens more around the world.

Sprague’s earned a spot in the 156-man field at Royal Portrush by winning the Amateur Championship last week at Portmarnock. He can also expect invitations to the Masters and U.S. Open next year, assuming he maintains amateur status.

The quest to obtain a sacred spot in The Open began in earnest last Monday as regional qualifying took place at 13 courses scattered around the British Isles.

PerryGolf guests experience thrilling moments, create lifetime memories and build lasting friendships at these courses in England, Ireland and Scotland on Custom Tours each year from April – October.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/british-golf-the-open-championship-packages.php

Final Qualifying for The Open occurs July 2nd at four different sites. (Golfers wishing to attend The Open can purchase tickets from PerryGolf, an authorised ticket provider). The top three finishers at each location secure the final 12 spots in the 156-man field. Being selected as a final qualifying site is a prestigious honor for any course in the British Isles, of course.

Prince’s is adjacent to Royal St. George’s and was the site of Gene Sarazen’s 1932 victory in The Open. Fairmont St. Andrews is a popular choice for visitors to the Home of Golf and a combination of the Kittocks and Torrance courses will be used for the Final Qualifying. The ninth hole at St. Anne’s Old Links is considered one of the finest in England while Notts Hollinwell is a masterful Willie Park Jr. design.

Countdown to the Ryder Cup accelerates as team rosters take form

Expect to see the team of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth often during the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. They won five of a possible seven points as partners in 2014 and 2016.

We’re three weeks away from the Ryder Cup, the biennial competition between the United States and Europe. The U.S. leads the all-time series 26-13 and holds the Cup after winning in convincing fashion at Hazeltine in 2016.

We’re counting down the days until the opening tee shot, no doubt.

Recent history, however, favors Europe, which has won the last five matches held on its home soil. The U.S. last won in Europe, in 1993, at The Belfry when Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were less than a year old.

Le Golf National is the host course for the matches, which head to France for the first time.

PerryGolf is thrilled to offer a fully managed Escorted Tour to Southwest France in September, 2019. Guests will enjoy five rounds and four wine tastings during this 11-Night journey through the Bordeaux and Biarritz regions. While France might not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a golf trip, the presence of this year’s Ryder Cup proves the country is rapidly growing in appeal and opportunity. Medoc Les Chateaux is a terrific links inspired design offered on this Escorted Tour while Saint Emilion is a recent addition, yet another polished gem from the creative genius of Tom Doak (Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers).

Indulge in the rich gastronomy and exquisite wines of Bordeaux, enjoy the refined sophistication of elegant Biarritz, tour Saint Jean de Luz, a noteworthy tourist destination since the early 19th century.

As it pertains to the upcoming Ryder Cup matches, he 12-man roster for each team is rounding into shape. Both teams are stacked. Anticipation always surges in the days prior to the Ryder Cup, still expert analysts feel these could be some of the best matches ever. Earlier this week, NBC Sports golf analyst Mark Rolfing told Sirius XM PGA Tour radio hosts Brian Katrek and John Maginnes that the 2016 Ryder Cup was the greatest sporting event he’s ever covered or attended, including several Super Bowls and other major spectacles around the globe. No one would be surprised if these evenly matched teams in 2018 surpass that lofty mark.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk made three of his four picks Tuesday afternoon and there were no surprises as he selected Ryder Cup rookie Bryson DeChambeau, winner of consecutive FedEx Cup Playoffs events, and wily veterans Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The American legends have combined to appear in 18 Ryder Cups, participating in 78 matches.

Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn also added experience with his four selections on Wednesday. He selected Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey – who bring a wealth of winning memories in their combined 19 appearances.

Poulter has played well over the last year and has a phenomenal Ryder Cup record, including victories in 12 of 18 matches and a perfect singles record. Garcia has struggled this season but is on the record calling the Ryder Cup his favorite event. He’s claimed 22 points in eight appearances during which he’s been on the winning side five times.

Furyk has one final selection to make after this week’s BMW Championship at Aronimink, outside Philadelphia. While the soon-to-be 29-year-old bomber Tony Finau appears to be the leading candidate, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele or Brandt Snedeker could play their way into consideration with a victory this weekend. 

Of course, the Ryder Cup has been contested throughout Europe over the last decade as the European Tour has shown the wisdom and foresight to expose an array of nations to the exciting matches in an effort to enhance interest and grow the game.

PerryGolf can take you and your favorite golfing partners to walk the same fairways and greens where matches have been decided, cups won and champagne-soaked celebrations spilled deep into the night.

Our 2019 British Isles Golf Cruise includes attendance to the final round of The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, and also a round at the K Club Palmer Course, site of Team Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in 2006. The Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course, which played host to Europe’s convincing 16.5 to 11.5 romp in 2014 is a popular selection on any of our Custom Tours to Scotland.

The dramatic finish at Valderrama was the ideal setting for the 1997 Ryder Cup when the late Seve Ballesteros captained Team Europe to victory over an American squad that included a rookie named Tiger Woods. Perhaps no golfer is more synonymous with the Ryder Cup than the fiery Spaniard. His presence, when the team expanded to include all of continental Europe in the late 1970s, helped elevate the matches to the worldwide status they enjoy today. Ballesteros and fellow countryman Jose Maria Olazabal, known as the Spanish Armada, breezed to an 11-2 record in their fourball and foursomes matches. Valderrama is a staple on PerryGolf’s many Cruises to the region, including the 13-Night Spain, Portugal & France Golf Cruise in late May / early June 2020.   

Good News for Scottish Golf!

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson

This year’s Masters Champion, Phil Mickelson, confirmed recently that he can’t wait to return to Loch Lomond and compete in the Barclays Scottish Open this year.  Due to family circumstances, the Californian was unable to compete last year but is determined to do so this year – we will be looking out for him!

By Yvonne Shaw.  Yvonne has been with PerryGolf for over 10 years and is a member of our admin team.