RORY McILROY will make the Irish Open one of the hottest tickets in European golf next summer.
McIlroy (right) has vowed to cut back on his tournament schedule in 2013, but the world No 1 is determined to support his national championship.
This will place the Irish Open in privileged company alongside the British Open at Muirfield and, probably, May's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth as the Ulster phenomenon once again plays a maximum three events in Continental Europe next year.
It is understood that McIlroy's participation at Carton House will be confirmed at a briefing to be staged by the promoters and the host club within the next fortnight.
This represents a massive boost to the tournament as it prepares to return to the Republic of Ireland following last summer's unforgettable visit to Royal Portrush, where the Irish Open became the first European Tour sanctioned event to draw crowds greater than 100,000.
More than 30,000 flocked to the famed Antrim links on Saturday and Sunday last year, boosting attendances over the week to 130,785 and helping generate a rare profit estimated by senior Tour officials at around €1m.
Having three Major champions of their own in the field for this first Irish Open in Northern Ireland since 1953 made it a must for locals.
Yet McIlroy's sensational fifth victory of 2012 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Sunday has established Holywood's world No 1 as the biggest draw in golf.
And with every chance of the 23-year-old dominating continuing his domination of the world stage next year, fans should flock to watch McIlroy take on fellow Irish Major winners Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington from June 27-30.
Carton last staged the Irish Open on their Montgomerie Course in 2005 and 2006 but the O'Meara Course is a more likely option in June, following completion of a major upgrade to the appealing parkland layout this winter.
McIlroy played the O'Meara at the 2005 Irish Amateur Open.