McIlroy and Harrington delight at decision to move Irish Open date
Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30
Reigning champion Rory McIlroy and 2007 winner Pádraig Harrington have welcomed confirmation of the new date and venue for the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The European Tour announced yesterday that the Open will, as was widely expected, be played at Portstewart in Northern Ireland, but the surprise was the schedule change from May to July 6-9.
This gives Tour players a 'Links Swing' in both Ireland and Scotland leading up to the British Open which will take place next year at Royal Birkdale.
McIlroy's charitable 'Rory Foundation' linked up with Dubai Duty Free to upgrade the status of the Irish Open and presented it at Royal County Down in 2015. This year it came south to The K Club, and now the links connection for 2017 is a further boost for the tournament.
Said McIlroy: "I'm really excited about it.
"We've been working hard with The European Tour over the last couple years to try and find suitable venues and a suitable date for The Irish Open.
"We sort of knew a long time ago that Portstewart was going to be probably where we were going to go play it in 2017.
"To get that date right before the Scottish (Open) is huge. Hopefully we can attract some marquee names to come over and play.
"With it being at the start of July, hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get some decent weather," he said.
Pádraig Harrington, who broke the 25-year hoodoo on home winners when he triumphed at Adare Manor in 2007, was very pleased.
"Great. I saw the statistical report by the European Tour, that the last five winners of The Open played the Scottish Open the week before," he said.
"When I won two Opens I played links the week before, so maybe the cat's out of the bag.
"It's great for the Irish Open, no doubt about it. It's a great date and great to be on a links course."