WOOSNAM READY FOR COMPETITIVE RETURN

After leading Europe to a comprehensive Ryder Cup victory at The K Club last September, captain Ian Woosnam (pictured) is looking forward to getting back to his old job of being a professional golfer. This week he revealed his detailed playing plans for the 2007 season and he is scheduled to return to competitive golf in next week’s TCL Classic in China, which runs from March 15-18.

“I turn 50 in March of next year and I am planning a full season on the European Tour before then,” he said.

“I know that when I am in the groove I can play well and be competitive, so I am very much looking forward to preparing properly and giving it my best shot. The Ryder Cup was one of the greatest moments of my life but it is in the past now. You have to move on to the next challenge.”

ILONEN GETS A LIFT WITH NEW FINNISH SPONSORSHIP DEAL

Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, winner of the 2007 Indonesian Open and a former British Amateur champion, has signed a sponsorship deal with KONE.

The Helsinki-based business, one of the world’s largest escalator and elevator companies, announced the link-up with one of the European Tour’s brightest young stars at the pro-am event before this week’s Singapore Masters.

“I am very pleased to be working with KONE,” said Ilonen.

“The company has developed from a regional but determined player into a global leader. There is no point looking any further for an analogy for a golfer’s career. It is also great news for Finnish golf.”

FOOTJOY REEL HAPPY

Golf shoe manufacturer FootJoy says it is “delighted” with the impact of its new ReelFit shoes.

The “laceless” shoes feature the BOA Lacing System ? a tightening device that features almost two feet of micro cable. FootJoy is now going to offer two new designs, both of which will be available from May 2007 and will retail at the usual price of £149.95.

“We are delighted with the reaction to ReelFit and although we knew we had something unique on our hands we couldn’t possibly have predicted a reaction quite like this,” said FootJoy’s director of product management Jeremy Baldwin.

BANK OF IRELAND SPONSORSHIP DEAL FOR MCGRANE

Up-and-coming Irish pro Damien McGrane is another player to have secured new sponsorship this week. He has signed a deal with Bank Of Ireland that will see him wear its logo on his clothing during all European Tour events.

McGrane, who finished third in last season’s KLM Open, will be looking to continue the progress that led to a 55th placed finish in last season’s Order of Merit. For Bank of Ireland it represents another foray into the world of golf ? it has already announced its backing for this June’s All-Ireland Golf Championships, the biggest single-day golf competition ever staged.