Friday 18 October 2019

Irish Open diary: McLoughlin has 2020 vision for Harrington

Paul McGinley. Photo: Sportsfile
Paul McGinley. Photo: Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington might be unsure about hosting the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open but sponsor Colm McLoughlin is hopeful that the Dubliner will be at the helm next year and he's not averse to growing the prize fund to $10 million.

"I think these things have to go up," the executive vice-chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free said yesterday when asked about increasing the prize fund for the Irish Derby at the Curragh.

"And I would see the prize fund at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open go up too.

"We'll go as high as $10m if we have to and remain part of the Rolex Series. But that depends a lot on the ongoing discussions between the European Tour and Rolex."

The 2020 venue remains "undecided" as the European Tour completes its shortlist using its "venue rating system" and makes a recommendation that will likely determine the host too.

"It looks like being Pádraig Harrington," Galway native McLoughlin said, confirming Dubai Duty Free's commitment to 2020 with an option for another two years after that, adding that a links host was "not cast in stone."

Life member McGinley recalls South heroics

Paul McGinley was proud to be made an Honorary Life Member of Lahinch this week and come full circle at a venue where he first broke 70 as a teenager.

His sub-par score came on the Castle Course when his father, Michael, was competing in the South of Ireland Championship and he was proud, not just to win the event in 1991, but to help a college pal from San Diego enjoy his five minutes of fame in Ireland and relive those memories this week.

"I remember bringing over a friend of mine, my college roommate John Adams, who is here this week," McGinley told a small gathering in the Members' Pavilion. "I suggested he come and play the South and the Mullingar Scratch Cup.

"He got to the quarter-finals and an American coming to play back then was like Tiger Woods coming over to play the South of Ireland. Even though John was a good golfer in California, he certainly wasn't Tiger Woods."

O'Rourke captures rare bird on opening hole

Naas' Conor O'Rourke missed the cut at Lahinch but he at least had the satisfaction of an eagle two at the first.

The former St Andrews Links Trophy winner holed out from 116 yards with a 52-degree wedge but followed a 71 with a 72 to finish on three-over par.

Irish Independent

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