By Brian Keogh
Ladies European Tour CEO, Alexandra Armas. Picture: LET
The Ladies European Tour insists it will continue its fight to revive the Ladies Irish Open and bring it back next year.
The LET released a record-breaking 2021 schedule on February 12 and while the Ladies Irish Open was conspicuous by its absence for the ninth year in a row, Ladies European Tour, CEO Alexandra Armas insists she will continue to work towards bringing the events back next year.
“The Tour has fond memories of competing in Ireland at the Ladies Irish Open,’ Armas said. “The fans were incredible, they are extremely passionate and supportive of women’s golf and it always proved a highlight for players on the schedule.
“It is 100 per cent a tournament that we would love to revive and one that has an illustrious list of winners including Cathy Panton, Dame Laura Davies, Diana Luna, Sophie Gustafson, Suzann Pettersen and most recently the 2021 European Solheim Cup captain, Catriona Matthew OBE, who won at Killeen Castle in 2012.
“The 2011 Solheim Cup that was staged at Killeen Castle, was a phenomenal showcase of women’s golf and no one will forget the dramatic Sunday finish that saw Europe secure a 15 – 13 victory and their fourth Solheim Cup win.
“Over the last couple of years, we have been having positive conversations around securing a return to Ireland. Hopefully, we will be able to return this year [to talk] and then we will focus on opportunities to potentially add more events in the future.”
Irish women’s professional golf currently boasts two players on the LPGA Tour with Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow set to return in this week’s Gainbridge LPGA at Lake Nona in Florida.
Maguire missed the cut as an amateur in that 2012 Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle but she has fond memories of her appearances in the event and the appetite for top-class women’s golf on Irish soil.
“I see Sweden has three events, and Switzerland and Finland and Holland have events back or for the first time,” Leona said. “I'd love to see the Irish Open back at some point.
“Those events in Killeen Castle were fantastic, and the crowds we got were brilliant too. I really enjoyed Portmarnock Links when it was there and I see they have the Challenge Tour back this year.
“It was a great test for us when we were there. Hopefully, in the next year, we will get one back. I know title sponsors are hard to come by these days, but hopefully, in the next few years, we will get it back. I know a lot of the big players love coming to Ireland.
“The crowds are always great as well — some of the biggest I've ever played in front of were at those Irish Opens in Killeen Castle and the Curtis Cup in Dun Laoghaire.”