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Irish PGA try to attract top players

Ireland's top two touring professionals Pádraig Harrington and Darren Clarke could be lured into playing again in the £110,000 Smurfit PGA Irish Championship next year.

Next year's venue is likely to be on the Co Sligo links at Rosses Point and there is every likelihood a time switch will be made away from what has been a customary date for the championship in October.

Unfortunately, there are many clashes of interests involving the leading tour players, particularly Harrington and Clarke, who were involved in the Cisco World Matchplay championship this year at Wentworth.

It appears both players are keen to try and recapture the domestic championship even though the money involved is small beer by their own high standards as global giants of golf.

Michael McComiskey, boss of the PGA Irish Region said: "The European Tour schedule for next year should be available in a week's time. "We will endeavour to find a date that will allow the likes of Harrington and Clarke to be available. Pádraig won the title at Powerscourt in 1999 and Darren was a winner five years earlier in Galway

"Last week, not only did we not have Harrington and Clarke, but a number of other players were involved in competition in France. Thankfully, Paul McGinley gave the Cannes Open a bye to defend his title at Castlerock, losing to Des Smyth.

"Eamonn Darcy, Paddy Gribben and David Higgins were in Cannes, trying to save their European Tour privileges. Wexford professional Damien McGrane and Gary Murphy were involved in Challenge Tour in France.

"So, it is obvious we have to try something in the form of a date that would suit all our players or as many as possible, to compete in the Smurfit Irish Championship. No firm decision has, as yet, been taken on the venue for the 2002 Championship," added McComiskey.

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