Sunday 23 July 2017

Danny Willett and Lee Westwood confirmed for Irish Open

2016 Masters Tournament Champion Danny Willett and ten-time Ryder Cup Europe member Lee Westwood have both been confirmed to play at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open this summer.

Willett and Westwood will join compatriot and 2017 Masters runners-up Justin Rose at the Portstewart Golf Club (Co. Derry) for the tournament with the English trio set to face off against defending champion and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy at the links course.

This year's open will take place from the  6-9 July, with crowds in excess of 100,000 expected for what could potentially be the highest attended open in the tournament's history.

Willett said that playing in front of such large crowds was a significant factor in him signing on for the Open, with the 29-year-old also revealing that he has always been warmly received by Irish Golf fans.

“I love playing in front of the Irish golf fans,” said Willett.

“They’ve always given me a great reception, right back to when I played the Walker Cup in Northern Ireland in 2007, and I think that’s part of the reason why I have played so well there in the last few years.

“It’s good to get some links golf under your belt in the run-up to The Open Championship and I’m sure Portstewart will provide great preparation.”

Westwood also has had an enjoyable time at the tournament over his career with a tenth placed finish at the K Club last year adding to three top five finishes and two top ten placed finishes before that.

The three-time European Tour Golfer of the Year said that the Irish Open is one of his favourite tournaments on the European circuit, and that the Open's return to a links course in Portstewart should appeal to a lot of prospective players.

“The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has always been one of the highlights of the European Tour season and, with it now being part of the Rolex Series, I’m sure it’s going to be even bigger this time around,” said Westwood.

“Going back to a links course this year definitely adds to the appeal for a lot of the guys and I’ve heard great things about Portstewart Golf Club so hopefully I can bring some form into the week and play well in front of the Northern Irish fans – who were fantastic in 2015.”

The 2017 Irish Open has been accepted as a Rolex Series Event which will increase the prize fund from €4 million in 2016 to a record US$7 million (€6.42 million).

World number 16 Tyrrell Hatton and and world number 28 Tommy Fleetwood have also been confirmed to play.

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