Golf: Ireland to host their first Ryder Cup in 2005

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Ireland are to host the 2005 Ryder Cup, the first time the biennial contest, which began in 1927, has ever been held there.

The course to stage the match between Europe and the United States has yet to be determined, but the three favourites are the Arnold Palmer-designed K Club in County Kildare, Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny, designed by Jack Nicklaus, and the links at Portmarnock, outside Dublin.

Colin Montgomerie, who criticised the decision to go to The Belfry for a fourth time in 2001, said: "Not before time. Ireland should have had the Ryder Cup before now. It's a shame it's taken so long."

The K Club has staged the Smurfit European Open for the last three years, while Mount Juliet was the home for the Irish Open from 1993-95. The most popular choice would be Portmarnock, which held the first Irish Open in the same year the Ryder Cup began and only six years ago drew massive crowds for the Walker Cup.

There was bitter disappointment in the Republic when the 1993 Ryder Cup was awarded to The Belfry, this year's match to Spain and the 2001 event to The Belfry again.

Players such as Harry Bradshaw and Christy O'Connor are part of Ryder Cup history and in recent years Irish golfers have made a habit of becoming heroes.

Eamonn Darcy beat Ben Crenshaw on the last green at Muirfield Village in 1987 to set up Europe's first-ever win on American soil, then two years later Christy O'Connor Jnr hit the two-iron of his life for a one-hole victory over Fred Couples as Europe kept the trophy.

Two years ago, Philip Walton won the cup back by defeating Jay Haas on the final green of the penultimate match at Oak Hill.