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Irish Open changes course and sponsor

The Irish Open golf championship returns to an old favourite venue next year - with new sponsors and a new date.

Portmarnock, which staged the inaugural tournament in 1927 and last played host in 1990, will be the site of the 2003 championship on July 24-27, the week after the Open at Sandwich.

Nissan Ireland have been confirmed as the new title sponsors in association with Bord Failte.

The announcement was made at a reception in Dublin attended by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue.

Ken Schofield, the tour's executive director, said: "We are delighted to welcome Nissan Ireland as title sponsors and to congratulate both them and Bord Failte for their foresight in forming a partnership.

"This will be the 19th occasion that the Irish Open has been hosted by Portmarnock, of which we have so many good memories.

"Indeed, when the revived Irish Open took root at Portmarnock in 1976 the victories of Ben Crenshaw and Hubert Green began a list of champions which is truly a Who's Who of European and international golf.

"Ken Brown, Mark James (twice) and Sam Torrance won, followed in 1982 by that wonderful moment for all Ireland when John O'Leary triumphed with Christy O'Connor tying for third and Eamonn Darcy finishing tied seventh.

"Then when the championship again returned to Portmarnock in 1986, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam (twice) and Jose Maria Olazabal, all major champions, won on these wonderful links."

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