Harrington may act as 'host'

2010-11-26 11:43

Dubai - Triple major winner Padraig Harrington is ready to act as "host" of the Irish Open after the tournament lost its sponsor earlier this year.

The European Tour has said the event will keep its place on the 2011 schedule but no new sponsor has yet been found following the decision by phone company "3" to pull out.

Harrington, 39, told reporters at this week's Dubai World Championship he was involved in trying to bring in new backing for the July tournament.

Asked if it could be called the Irish Open hosted by Padraig Harrington with the new sponsor as a prefix, the Dubliner replied: "Yes, if I brought the sponsor it would be and it would have that official tag.

"I could also see Darren (Clarke) or Graeme (McDowell) or Rory (McIlroy) doing the same in the North. I think if there is an ambassador role to be played it would be based on the connection between the player and the sponsor."

The tournament, first held in 1927, was won by Briton Ross Fisher in Killarney this year but Harrington said it could be moved to Northern Ireland if Clarke, McDowell or McIlroy helped to attract a new sponsor.

"It has certainly been talked about because if the Northern Ireland players do bring something to the table then they would like to see it go to Northern Ireland," said the winner of the 2007 and 2008 British Opens and the 2008 US PGA Championship.

"It would be a great event in Northern Ireland but then it was a fantastic event in Killarney. If all things go to plan I would suggest they look to take it back to Killarney again and try and have another successful year there before they move it."

Harrington said he had spoken to European Tour chief executive George O'Grady about the issue.

"I have met with George ... the tour certainly want to make sure it's there on the schedule," said the world number 21.

"It is a big event again in Europe and it's at a quality time of the year. While it would be good to have a domestic sponsor, the Irish Open attracts global coverage and that's why it is up there with three million euros ($4.01 million) in prize money."