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JR

Jan. 23, 2002

ORLANDO, Fla. - College golf's most prestigious international competition, the Palmer Cup, has selected host sites through 2004, GCAA president Mark Simpson announced today. In cooperation with IMG, the GCAA and Palmer Cup will travel to the following venues:

2002 - Doonbeg Golf Club, County Clare, Ireland
2003 - The Kiawah Island Club Cassique Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
2004 - Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course, County Kerry, Ireland

Additionally, dates for the sixth Palmer Cup at Doonbeg have been set for July 8-12, 2002.

The Palmer Cup is an annual match-play competition that pits eight elite college golfers from the United States against their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland. The event has grown tremendously in stature in its five-year history, due in part to the outstanding facilities that have played host.

Alternating each year between the U.S. and GB&I, past venues include Bay Hill Club (1997), Old Course at St. Andrews (1998), The Honors Course (1999), Royal Liverpool (2000) and Baltusrol Golf Club Lower Course (2001).

"We are very excited about securing these sites for the Palmer Cup over the next three years," said Simpson. "Obviously, these matches have a tradition of playing prestigious courses, and the future promises to add to that history."

"When you look at the lineup of Doonbeg, Cassique and Ballybunion, you can't help but be amazed - it is a golfer's dream!" Simpson continues. "They are all classic links layouts on the shores of the Atlantic, which will be a tremendous test for the best college golfers in the world."

Doonbeg Golf Club is the highly anticipated new links course by Greg Norman. Most likely the last true links ever to be built in either Ireland or Great Britain, Doonbeg is set amidst centuries-old dunes along the crescent beach of Doughmore Bay, just north of Ballybunion. Already receiving critical acclaim, the course is set to open on July 1, right before the Palmer Cup.

Cassique is the newest course of the private Kiawah Island Club. Just named by Golf Digest as one of "America's Best New Private Courses," the course was designed by Tom Watson, his first solo course design in North America. Cassique's links-inspired layout runs through live oaks and pines along the Kiawah River where it meets the Atlantic.

Doonbeg Golf Club and The Kiawah Island Club are both creations of Kiawah Development Partners of Charleston, S.C.

"To host a tournament that has been played at St. Andrews, between two legendary venues in Baltusrol and Ballybunion - that is an honor beyond description," said Charles P. Darby III, CEO of Kiawah Development Partners. "We have an unbelievable standard to live up to, but our two courses, which are Norman's and Watson's finest creations, are worthy of the challenge."

The 2004 site, Ballybunion's Old Course, is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 courses in the world. Watson described the glorious links at Ballybunion as the "best in the world" - high praise indeed for this magnificent test of golf, which winds precariously through massive dunes beside the Atlantic. Founded in 1893, it stretches 6,593 yards and plays to a par 71.

"On behalf of Ballybunion Golf Club, we are delighted to be part of this great event in 2004. The club members will get a great opportunity to see first hand the future greats of the game," said Brendan O'Sullivan, Captain Ballybunion Golf Club (2001-2002).

William H. Davis describes Ballybunion in his book, The World's Best Golf, quite eloquently - "Tom Watson says of the Old Course, 'Ballybunion is a course on which golf architects should live and play before they build golf courses.' The renowned British architect Tom Simpson was brought in to recommend alterations to the Old Course prior to its hosting the Irish Amateur in 1937. Given carte blanche, he moved only three greens and inserted one fairway bunker. The Old Course starts out ominously past a graveyard on the first hole. Holes one through five are unlike the rest of Ballybunion, but when you approach the sixth hole you feel like Alice in Wonderland as the ocean comes into view. There isn't a sand bunker around the greens on this par 4, but the approach shot has to be deadly accurate to hold the green. Holes seven through 18 are the real Ballybunion with sweeping contours, momentous sand dunes, and the sea always in view. The 455-yard ninth is a genuine par 4 1/2. The 14th and 15th are extraordinary par 3's, the former an uphill shot and the latter probably the most formidable par 3 in the world, particularly into the wind. The 18th is a dogleg to the left over what the members call the 'Sahara', and the final shot is blind. Says Christy O'Connor, 'Anyone who breaks 70 here is playing better than he is able to play.'"

Many of golf's young stars have represented their country in the Palmer Cup since 1997, including Luke Donald (England), J.J. Henry (U.S.), Charles Howell III (U.S.), David Inglis (Scotland), Matt Kuchar (U.S.), Graeme McDowell (Ireland), Bryce Molder (U.S.) and Rory Sabbatini (England). The U.S. leads GB&I in the series, 3-1-1.

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