There is still life left in the Irish Open as mobile phone company 3 have come in to rescue the event from extinction.

Still to be officially confirmed, the deal will see the prize fund for the tournament rise to an impressive €3m. Irish sports minister Martin Cullen is understood to have played a key role in obtaining the deal which is thought to last for three more years.

It is thought that the event will return to the Mount Juliet course in County Kilkenny, venue for the tournament from 1993-1995. It also hosted the American Express Championship in 2002 and 2004 where the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson turned up.

Officials at Mount Juliet are believed to be waiting until they can be absolutely certain that the course will be in top condition before they can commit to staging the tournament.

Mount Juliet will face stiff competition from the exciting development of Thomastown. It is still in the balance whether the world-class venue will be ready in time for the 2009 tournament being held on 14th-17th May.

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