By John Strege
The best field in a tournament of which many probably have never heard, one generating unimaginable sums of money for charity, will no longer be played, unless...
Unless "bureaucratic nonsense," as former Limerick, Ireland, mayor John Gilligan called it," is jettisoned and the host is amenable to continuing it.
J.P. McManus, who often plays in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, is an Irish billionaire who every five years (starting in 1990) has hosted the J.P. McManus Invitational Pro-Am in Limerick. The 36-hole tournament has raised in excess of $100 million for charity, as much as half that coming in 2010 alone.
Among those who played in 2010 were Tiger Woods (shown above with McManus at the 2010 event), Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott. Woods, who has grown particularly close to McManus, has played in the last three and won it in 2000.
McManus, meanwhile, runs his businesses out of Geneva, Switzerland, and must spend fewer than 183 days in Ireland to avoid paying Irish taxes. "It takes an enormous amount of time [planning the tournament] and now we have less time than we had a few years ago," McManus told the Limerick Leader last year. "The rules have changed. It used to be nights in the country. Now it's days. So if I come in at seven p.m. and go out at seven in the morning that counts as two days here."
In January, he announced that the tournament would not be played in 2015.
Now comes word that Gilligan has submitted a motion to Limerick's city council, asking that it lobby the Irish government to have his residence period in Ireland extended to allow him to continue his tournament. "Organizing a golf classic to international standards and welcoming the top golfers in the world takes a lot of time and effort," Gilligan told the Limerick Leader.
"Just how stupid can we be? Common sense dictates that people like J.P., who spend time raising money for areas and projects which the government cannot or will not fund, should be welcomed with open arms and time spent in doing this should be exempt from this bureaucratic nonsense."
Whether McManus would choose to resurrect his tournament, even should Gilligan succeed, is not known.