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Ireland to host the 2005 Ryder Cup

Dublin, Ireland 19th September - Ireland. who should have been hosting next week's Ryder Cup if tradition was a match for cheque books and business opportunism, has now been awarded the event in 2005.

The Irish sports minister, Jim McDaid, said he had secured agreement for the Ryder Cup to be held for the first time in the Emerald Isle after negotiations with PGA European Tour officials.

The annoucnement came as a surprise to Ken Scholfield, the executive director of the PGA European Tour, who had expected a joint statement. He nevertheless confirmed the event would be going to Ireland for the first time and added, "We welcome and are delighted by the announcement of the Irish Government that the 2005 match will be played in Ireland,''

A formal announcement is expected next week during the Ryder Cup at Valderamma in southern Spain, where the event is being staged outside the United States or Great Britain for the first time in its 70-year history.

The Irish venue for the 2005 Cup has not yet been selected. Possible candidates include the K Club in County Kildare, where the European Open has been staged for the last three years, and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet course in County Kilkenny, site of the Irish Open from 1993-95.

If the matches are to be played over the best course it should be between Portmarnock and Royal Portrush but the chequebook factor that has seen multi-millionaire Patino virtually buy the Ryder Cup for Valderrama could see the American type courses, The K Club and Mount Juliet come into the equation. That would certainly cut the chances of playing the 2005 Ryder Cup on a traditional Irish course.

The 1999 Ryder Cup Matches will be held at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., while the 2001 contest will be staged at the Belfry in England. The competition will be back in the United States in 2003 at a site to be determined, possibly the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.