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Wednesday 7 December 2016

The Irish Open will see Rory take on some of the top names in golf on home turf

For the first time in 76 years, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation will be held in the Royal County Down links course in Newcastle, from 28-31 May. Co Down-born McIlroy will no doubt be vying for a win

Published 09/04/2015 | 02:30

The Mourne Moutains
The Mourne Moutains

"People have asked me why I am so excited about the Irish Open coming to Royal County Down," says Rory. "The answer is obvious, really.

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"We have a great golf course that features regularly in world top ten rankings and a fantastic tournament with a world-class heritage.

"A quick glance down the list of previous winners gives you an idea of the status of this tournament - Crenshaw, Faldo, Montgomerie, Olazabal, Garcia, Ballesteros, Langer and Harrington, to name but a few."

This year will mark the second occasion in the last 62 years that the competition has been held in Northern Ireland, following the tournament's huge success at Royal Portrush in 2012. Record crowds watched Jamie Donaldson's victory that year, making it the European Tour's first 'sold out' tournament, and this year promises to be even better.

World number one Rory Mcllroy has been instrumental in bringing this about. The Co Down-born star's foundation is hosting the event, and he has certainly taken his role seriously, drawing in big-name sponsors and even bigger names from the golfing world.

"As I was growing up, I used to absolutely love it when Northern Ireland sportsmen and sportswomen were successful in any field. It gives us all a sense of pride in where we're from, a feeling that we are up there mixing it with the best.

"So, to be able to invite the world of golf to visit my home county and know that they will be blown away by the quality of the course, the stunning scenery and the hospitality of the people…that's something very special indeed."

One of the first golfers Mcllroy invited to Down was his old rival, Rickie Fowler.

Old rivals

Rickie and Rory were on opposing sides in the 2007 Walker Cup which was also held in Co Down - with Fowler's United States team edging ahead by 12ƒ-11ƒ.

"It's been eight years since Rickie Fowler and I walked out at Royal County Down as members of rival teams in the Walker Cup, and later that year I turned professional. It seems like a lifetime ago."

Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington are also featuring in the line-up for this the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, with more names to be announced.

That said, once Mcllroy steps onto the course, there's no doubt there will be only one thing on his mind.

"The Irish Open will really be a landmark for me. And if I can get my name on the trophy, then 2015 will go down as an important year in my career."

World-class golf courses

From the dedicated golfer to the first timer, Northern Ireland offers over 90 very diverse courses - each one a unique gem. Whether you're seeking championship level, dramatically scenic settings, a slice of history, links or parkland, world-renowned courses such as Royal Portrush, Royal County Down or Lough Erne Resort or simply idyllic tranquillity, Northern Ireland has it all.

Northern Ireland's soft climate, warmed by tropical gulf streams, makes it ideal for golf all year round. Dramatic landscapes, quality accommodation and the hearty warm welcome which awaits you, mean that your next golfing holiday could really be the best you'll ever experience.

For more information on Northern Ireland's stunning golf courses visit: www.discovernorthernireland.com/golfing/ or Callsave 1850 230 230

Irish Independent

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