Tuesday 17 September 2019

Rory McIlroy's Irish Open vow after earning top award

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy followed up scooping his third PGA Tour Player of the Year award by promising to tee it up in 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open if the new May date is confirmed.

The Holywood star beat Brooks Koepka (as well Matt Kuchar and Xander Schauffele) in a vote of his peers, claiming his third Jack Nicklaus Award from the Golden Bear himself after an incredibly consistent season that brought him three wins and the FedEx Cup title, but no Majors.

The decision was a surprise considering Koepka won the PGA Championship, finished second in the Masters and the US Open and fourth in The Open in a three-win season.

After playing exclusively in the US until July, skipping the Irish Open at Lahinch, McIlroy racked up 14 top-10 finishes in the US and vowed to repeat his US-based schedule in 2020 before admitting that with a May 28-31 date likely for the Irish Open in 2020, he'd "definitely" play if such a move is confirmed.

"I don't think I'll miss The Irish Open for two years in a row," he said.

"I saw that the dates changed to the end of May it looks like, and if that's the case, I will definitely make the trip. I will definitely make the trip back over for that event."

McIlroy had feared he would come up short to world number one Koepka in a vote by his peers for Player of Year, despite following wins in The Players and the RBC Canadian Open with a final-round win over Koepka for the Tour Championship and the $15 million FedEx Cup bonus.

"You know, I think players don't just feel that four weeks a year is important," McIlroy said.

"It's more than that. We play a lot more. Why do we play 25 times a year if only four weeks are important?

"I think that's a huge vote of confidence from the players that we play for more than just, you know, maybe what the narrative suggests.

"I thought maybe Brooks winning the PGA Championship this year was going to be the difference-maker."

Irish Independent

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