Tuesday 16 January 2018

Irish Open short chips: McIlroy and Lowry form dream ticket

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry

RORY McILROY and Shane Lowry have been pitched into a dream match-up which will bring thousands rushing to the fairway ropes during tomorrow's first round of the Irish Open.

"I'm very excited about it," said Lowry after learning of this week's thrilling head-to-head with good pal McIlroy, his playing-partner during their amateur days on the Irish national team. "It's actually the draw I was hoping for and expecting, to be honest," added the Clara native.

Lowry (26), beat McIlroy in the first round of this year's Accenture Match Play in Tucson, but they brought the best out in each other on the previous occasion they paired-up in strokeplay on Saturday at the 2011 BMW PGA at Wentworth.

"I love playing in front of big crowds and the atmosphere will be great out there," said Carton resident Lowry. "Obviously, me and Rory get on well and will have a bit of a laugh going around."

McIlroy, who was scheduled to check into the Carton House hotel last night, and Lowry go head-to-head on the 10th tee at 7.50 tomorrow morning and on the first on Friday afternoon. Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell feature with defending champion Jamie Donaldson in the marquee group on the other side of the draw.

HARRINGTON WORKING TO FIND IRISH OPEN SPONSOR

THE world-beating feats of Padraig Harrington and Ireland's other Major champions undoubtedly helped sustain the Irish Open through three years without a title sponsor.

Now, Dubliner Harrington believes he's found a financial backer big enough to give the nation's premier golf event an entirely new lease of life.

"I've worked behind the scenes to try to find a sponsor and I've got one up my sleeve at the moment that, hopefully, might follow through for next year," he revealed yesterday during a pre-tournament media briefing at Carton House.

"It's got very good potential so that's something to look forward to and see if we can get it over the line."

When mobile network '3' walked away in 2010, Failte Ireland, who are ploughing €1.5m into this week's event, and a series of subsidiary sponsors helped keep the show on the road with the support of European Tour-record crowds.

NUMBER OF THE DAY

€5m That's the minimum an Irish Open title-sponsor would expect to invest, which would permit a €1m increase in the purse to €3m and help meet staging and marketing costs.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"No!"– said Carton resident Shane Lowry emphatically when asked if he'd cook breakfast for his two house guests this week, Ollie Fisher and Graeme Storm. "I don't think my cooking would be great and I'd like to see the two lads making it through four rounds. I'll give them a bed each and that will be about it."

Irish Independent

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