Confirmed: Rory McIlroy will not play in the 2019 Irish Open
Rory McIlroy has confirmed that he will sit out this season's Irish Open.
The world number eight had been the tournament host in recent seasons and strived to place the Irish Open among the European Tour's top events.
However, he says missing out on this year's edition at Lahinch will give him a better chance of lifting the Claret Jug at the Open Championship at Portrush.
"If there is ever a year when I feel I can miss this Irish Open, it's this year," McIlroy told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.
"If I was to play the Irish Open, The Open Championship would be my third event in a row.
"For me, that's not the best way to prepare for what could be the biggest event of my life.
"I love the Irish Open. I've supported it in my whole career.
"The people of Ireland are still going to see me playing golf because I'm going to play The Open Championship and I'm sure a lot of people will travel from down south."
The Irish Open will be played, as is the norm, two weeks before the major in July. All Rory's efforts will be directed towards giving himself the best possible chance to secure what he says would be the 'biggest achievement' of his career by winning on the North Coast.
McIlroy must play four European Tour events this season if he is to hold on to his European Tour card for the 2020 season, which he says is his intention.
Paul McGinley is this year's tournament host at the Irish Open.