Rory McIlroy key as Irish Open gets nod for Tour's 'magnificent seven' Series
Rory McIlroy's status in world golf was central to the Irish Open being one of the 'magnificent seven' tournaments in the new Rolex Series presented by the European Tour.
The 2017 staging of the Open at Portstewart, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free and hosted by the Rory Foundation, will have a prize fund of a minimum $7 million dollars (€6.5million).
That's a €2.5 million increase on the money available at The K Club last May.
A change of date for 2017 to July 6-9, two weeks before the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, and a week ahead of the Scottish Open, had already boosted the chances of attracting top players.
Yesterday's announcement of the Tour's Rolex Series, which will feature a minimum of seven tournaments each with a $7 million prize fund to include the Irish Open, is a significant bonus.
The personal commitment of McIlroy to the Irish Open was pivotal to the addition of the tournament among the 'magnificent seven' events on the calendar.
The full list is: BMW PGA Championship, Irish Open, Scottish Open, Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship.
Three of the events - the BMW PGA, the Irish Open, and the Scottish Open - will require additional funding to bring them to the $7 million dollar mark, and that extra cash will come from the Tour and from Rolex.
McIlroy welcomed the news saying: "I'm very grateful for the European Tour and Rolex including the Irish Open in this Rolex Series. The Irish Open's been given a great date as well.
"It's two weeks before the Open on a links golf course. We're really excited about it.
"It doesn't change my schedule that much, but it gives guys an incentive to maybe play a little bit more on this side of the pond leading up to the Open Championship."