|From left: Irish professionals Rebecca Coakley, Tara Delaney, Hazel Kavanagh and Martina Gillen|
Mary McKenna, Vagliano Team Captain commented:“I am delighted that my team will be together and have the experience of testing themselves against the best players in the game. This opportunity will also allow us to get together for a dedicated team day at Killeen Castle which will be of great help in our preparations for the matches in July”.
Speaking at today’s announcement of the 2009 AIB Ladies Irish Open Mr. Billy Andrews, General Manager of AIB, said:“We are delighted with this development as it embraces the amateur game in Ireland by giving some of our talented young players the chance of playing against the professionals and gain invaluable experience for their futures”
Minister for Arts, Sport, and Tourism, Martin Cullen said:“We are delighted to be supporting the 2009 AIB Ladies Irish Open and the inclusion of our top amateurs through the Fáilte Ireland Sports Tourism Initiative on a wonderful links venue. We are vigorously promoting Ireland as a golfing and holiday destination of choice. This event will present an opportunity to showcase our golfing product on a world stage and will place Ireland once more in the International spotlight in the run up to our staging of The 2011 Solheim Cup.
The final line up for the star studded field of Professionals will include European legend Laura Davies currently No.4 in Europe after a win in Australia earlier in the year and three time previous winner Sophie Gustafson currently ranked 43rd in the World. Three-time Solheim Cup player Maria Hjorth, ranked 24th in the world, returns to Portmarnock Links with her husband Shaun McBride and an additional family member; baby Emily McBride born on February 3rd 2009.
In addition all the top players from the Ladies European Tour have entered. These include Gwladys Nocera, Europe’s No. 1 in 2008, current No. 1 & 2 Marianne Skarpnord and Melissa Reid, who was 2008 Rookie of the Year and Maria Verchenova from Russia.
The Irish challenge will be led by Martina Gillen, Rebecca Coakley, Claire Coughlan-Ryan, Hazel Kavanagh, Marian Riordan and rookie Tara Delaney from Carlow, all representing Team Ireland for the Irish Sports Council
Roddy Carr from Twenty Eleven commented: “As we saw at the men’s Irish Open, an amateur can win in the professional ranks today. I believe it is the same in women’s golf. We are delighted that the LGU and Vagliano Team Captain Mary McKenna accepted our invitation for the Team members to play in the AIB Ladies Irish Open. We have some of the best young players in the World in Ireland and obviously we are hoping they will qualify for the team and get to compete in the AIB Ladies Irish Open. This year’s field has strength and depth and with the added attraction of the top amateurs competing we are expecting record crowds at Portmarnock Links”