Thursday 5 December 2019

Irish Open role will aid McDowell's bid for Limerick Ryder Cup

Graeme McDowell has made no secret of his desire to skipper Europe in the Ryder Cup one day. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Graeme McDowell has made no secret of his desire to skipper Europe in the Ryder Cup one day. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Graeme McDowell can lay the foundations of a potential bid for the 2026 Ryder Cup captaincy at Adare Manor when he hosts the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2020 and 2021.

As a four-time player and the hero of Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup win, the Portrush man has made no secret of his desire to skipper the side one day.

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JP McManus' stunning Co Limerick resort would be an ideal venue for McDowell (40), who will be 47 in 2026 and likely have three or four vice-captaincies under his belt.

"Maybe after a couple more vice-captaincies," he said of his ambitions after acting as a vice-captain for Thomas Bjorn in 2018.

"Maybe in my late forties, if the stars aligned - so many great young players will be coming to maturity when I will - but I'd love to do it. It's a special, special experience."

With Lee Westwood considered the favourite to lead Europe in Rome in 2022 and Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson among the favourites for 2024, following in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy and Paul McGinley by hosting back-to-back Irish Opens can only underline McDowell's reputation as a European Tour stalwart.

"It's a huge privilege to have the opportunity to host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in both 2020 and 2021," said McDowell, who will take the reins at Mount Juliet from May 28-31 next year and host again in 2021, when Portstewart (still to be officially confirmed) is expected to stage the event for the second time.

"The event has gone from strength to strength over the last few years with the support of Dubai Duty Free and the efforts of Rory and Paul as hosts, alongside everybody at the European Tour.

"I'm really looking forward to taking on that responsibility over the next two years and adding to the history of this great tournament, which has become a global spectacle that Irish golf fans can be proud of."

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