The European Tour is back in the spotlight with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, scheduled from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th July at Mount Juliet Estate Golf Course in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Rory McIlroy, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
From Rory McIlroy (champion in 2016) to Tommy Fleetwood. From Shane Lowry (who won the competition in 2009 when he was still an amateur) to Martin Kaymer. These are some of the big Europeans who will take part in the show. Who will also see six blues on the field. With Edoardo Molinari, second in 2014, here are also Renato Paratore, Francesco Laporta, Nino Bertasio, Andrea Pavan and Lorenzo Gagli (the only Italian in the field to have passed the cut last week at the BMW International Open in Germany).
There is great anticipation for McIlroy (tenth in the world ranking) who, two years after the last time (Open Championship 2019), returns to play a tournament in Ireland. “I’ve never played on this wonderful field which I find in great shape. I hope it will be an unforgettable week.” These are the statements of the Northern Irishman, whose last appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open dates back to 2018. The American John Catlin, who will play the first two rounds alongside McIlroy and Fleetwood, will defend the title won in 2020.
It is the fourth time that the Mount Juliet Estate (designed by Jack Nicklaus) has hosted the event, the first since 1995 when the Scotsman Sam Torrance won. For a tournament won in the past by greats of the green such as Severiano Ballesteros and Nick Faldo, among others.
Rory McIlroy talks after arrival in County Kilkenny yesterday.
“The last time I was on the 18th green here was that prize-giving ceremony. Tiger Woods won and I somehow sneaked my way under the ropes on to the back of the green. I was standing right behind him and his glove was still in his back pocket. I could have reached out and got it and ran, that would have been a good story to tell. Obviously I didn’t. It was the first time I’d seen him play live. I still remember the first shot I saw him hit, the drive at the 5th, a par five. He hit 2-iron into the green. It was so cool. I’d idolised him growing up and to actually see the man in the flesh was pretty exciting.”
“I’d made a bit of a name for myself as an amateur by then and knew Chubby (Chandler) and Darren (Clarke) so I was in the clubhouse and got to chat to Ernie when he won. It’s amazing to think it’s been 17 year. Certainly a lot’s changed for me since the last time I was here. I might as well play the Scottish as well. My original plan up until last week was us to come as a family, play here, take a week off, which is now the Scottish Open, and play the Open. With me being a sports person the restrictions are not as heavy for me as they would be for Erica and Poppy. I felt it wasn’t fair to put them through what they’d have to go through to be here with me. The plans changed very quickly and we made the decision I travel on my own. I wasn’t going to go back to the States for a week inbetween the Irish and the Open, so if I’m here I might as well play the Scottish as well. It went very quickly from them coming, to not coming and then me playing three events in a row! If anything, it’s probably worked out for the best. It’ll be nice to get a tournament on a links course before going into Sandwich. I didn’t play for a week because I was spending time with the family before being away. So I can now get to work here and in Scotland”.