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McIlroy wants to be the perfect host for Irish Open

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Rory McIlroy practices on the driving range at Gleneagles ahead of the Ryder Cup this weekend. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy practices on the driving range at Gleneagles ahead of the Ryder Cup this weekend. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy practices on the driving range at Gleneagles ahead of the Ryder Cup this weekend. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy last night spoke of his plans to make the Irish Open one of the biggest tournaments in Europe once again.

McIlroy's has agreed to 'host' the event at Royal Co Down next May and into the future through The Rory Foundation, which raises funds for children's charities at home and internationally.

The Holywood native will use his clout as World No 1 to attract sponsors and a host of US stars to a tournament which already draws bigger crowds than any other promoted by the European Tour.

"We're really excited about it," McIlroy explained. "I am going to host the Irish Open next year and hopefully for years to come. As it's hosted by me and my charitable foundation, there's going to be a big charity element to it.

"I'm just trying to restore the Irish Open to what it once was," he added. "It has struggled the last few years trying to get a title sponsor and trying to get a good field on good golf courses.

"I thought there's no better place to get involved than Royal Co Down. I'm pretty close with a lot of guys on Tour and I'm sure I'll persuade a few of them to come over and play, which is going to be a huge deal. I'm also working with some companies trying to get a title sponsor."

He's already spoken to some players who were part of the US team in the 2007 Walker Cup at the famous links. Their number includes Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and the top two in the FedEx Cup, Billy Horschel and Webb Simpson.

Tom Watson wants his team to view this week's Ryder Cup as "a redemption trip" after the American side's Sunday collapse at Medinah, advising the seven survivors from Chicago "it's time to make amends, try to redeem yourselves for what happened in 2012. I see it as a motivation rather than a negative."

Asked which European scalp he considered the most valuable, McIlroy or Ian Poulter's, Watson said: "Whenever you beat the stud on the opposing team it gives our team a boost. I think Ian is an 80pc (winning record) over the matches he's played. We'd like to reduce that."

Irish Independent