RORY McILROY has done the Irish Open a $2m favour.
Irish golf's world No 1, Tiger Woods' successor as the most exciting player on the planet, should boost attendances close to Portrush proportions at Carton House next June.
It's a measure of the Holywood star's loyalty to the Irish Open that he's waived any appearance fee for teeing it up on the Montgomerie Course from June 27-30.
Outside of the Majors, World Golf Championships and a few other showpieces, tournaments can expect to pay seven-figure sums to get megastars like McIlroy, Woods or Phil Mickelson to support their event.
At Tiger's peak, it cost a reputed $3m a time to enlist his services.
The global economy is not as healthy as it was back then but informed sources within pro golf still peg the rate for McIlroy at up to $2m (€1.54m) after his stunning achievements in 2012.
McIlroy's commitment to play at Carton has been described by his fellow Major champion Padraig Harrington as "fantastic".
"It means the event is already on a winner," he said. "I'm sure you know how much it costs to get Rory to play an event, and he's playing in the Irish Open for free because he loves to play in it.
"Rory has created so much of a buzz around the world, he's wanted at every tournament there is. Yet he's already committed to the Irish Open – what a guarantee that is."
McIlroy's back-room team at Horizon Sports Management has refuted recent reports that a 'hike' in his appearance fee after winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah forced the Australian Open to withdraw from an alleged "arrangement" for the 23-year-old to play in Sydney last week.
"That was no foundation whatsoever to that report," said a spokesman. "At no time was there any agreement, arrangement or plan for Rory to play the Australian Open. It simply wasn't an option this year."