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European Tour heading to Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is poised to stage a European Tour golf event, it was revealed on Thursday.

Officials from the Northern Ireland Events Company are on the verge of sealing a deal bringing the first main PGA European tour event to the Province.

Chief Executive John Walker hopes a final announcement will be made early in the new year.

"We have been working for a long time to bring a major PGA European tour event with all of Europe's top golfers," said Walker.

"This is one we hope to finalise within the month.

"It's all part of the strategy that's building on the resources we have with two of the best courses in the world," he said.

We are absolutely certain we can bring world class events to Northern Ireland

NI Events chief John Walker
If the deal goes ahead it is hoped that the event will begin in 2003 and would continue for a number of years.

The company, which is heavily involved in the staging of the Senior British Open, is also aiming to bring the veterans equivalent of the Ryder Cup to Northern Ireland.

"The UBS Warberg Cup is the US v the Rest of the World," said Walker.

"It was run very successfully for the first time in America recently and we are bidding to bring it to Northern Ireland in 2004/5," said Mr Walker.

Appearing before the Stormont Culture Arts and Leisure Committee on Thursday, he said the aim was to attract up to six major international events a year to Northern Ireland.

"We are absolutely certain we can bring world-class events to Northern Ireland but we know we have to plan well ahead".

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