'The Irish Open will always be bigger than one player' - Paul McGinley says Lahinch event has recovered from loss of Rory McIlroy
Tournament host Paul McGinley believes the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has recovered well from the "body blow" of Rory McIlroy's absence.
McIlroy acted as tournament host from 2015-18 and won the title at the K Club in 2016, but will compete in next week's Scottish Open rather than at Lahinch.
"Rory (not playing) was a huge body blow, particularly so early after the announcement we were coming here," McGinley told a pre-tournament press conference.
"Outside of Tiger Woods he is probably the most charismatic golfer in the world but I think we have recovered from that strongly, as shown by being close to selling out this weekend - and the Irish Open will always be bigger than one player. Rory would be the first to agree with that."
McGinley feels those players who have made the journey to County Clare will enjoy ideal preparation for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in a fortnight's time.
"We got in touch with the R&A and although we are not copying exactly everything they do, we have info on green speeds, rough height and fairway width and the players will feel really well prepared to win a major championship," McGinley added.
"I did it with the Wales Open before the Ryder Cup in 2014 and told the players it would be the perfect set up to prepare for Gleneagles."