The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is to extend the hosting duties beyond just Rory McIlroy and will now embrace each of Ireland’s Major winning players and Ryder Cup winning player and Captain Paul McGinley.
McIlroy’s and his Foundation have played a key role in elevating the tournament to be among the top events on the European and indeed the World golf calendar since he first became involved in 2015.
During that time Dubai Duty Free came on board as headline sponsors and the tournament was included on the roster of the Rolex Series seeing a substantial rise in prize money to €7 million.
McIlroy will host this year’s tournament taking place at Ballyliffin in County Donegal and the hosting ‘duties’ will then rotate between the illustrious group of five. McGinley will be first into the hot seat in 2019 when the tournament will come south to a venue to be confirmed shortly, ahead of the Open Championship coming to Ireland in July 2019.
Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke will then take a turn in an order yet to be determined but with a tried and tested format of switching between North and South it looks likely that Harrington will be the host in 2021.
“Today’s announcement is yet another exciting development in the history of one of our great tournaments,” said European Tour CEO Keith Pelley.
“Ireland has been blessed with many legendary golfers over the years and to have five of them agree to host the country’s national Open over the next five years shows a terrific commitment both to their homeland and to the European Tour.”
“I cannot use the word commitment without paying special thanks to Rory McIlroy, who has worked tirelessly alongside our fantastic tournament sponsor Dubai Duty Free over the past four years to raise the tournament to an entirely new level, and I am delighted he will return to the role of host in a future year.”
“I am thrilled by what we have achieved with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open over the past four years,” added McIlroy.
“I would like to thank the European Tour for sharing my vision for the event. Now feels like the right time to rotate the tournament hosting process, using the model that has been so successful for the British Masters. I look forward to collectively building on the current platform in the years ahead.”
There was confidence emanating from Dubai Duty Free as well about their continued involvement.
“I would like to thank Rory and his Foundation for hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open since 2015,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.
“Rory’s involvement in the tournament was a key factor in our decision to become the title sponsor at that time. We are happy with the plans to rotate the hosting of the tournament from 2019 onwards and delighted that Paul McGinley will be the first to take on that role.”
“I am truly delighted to be part of this next exciting phase in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open,” said McGinley.
He was central to a special ‘Inside the Ropes’ Event held in Dublin last month gathering key stakeholders and partners of the event for an evening of chat and networking.
“As Ireland moves to the forefront of the world golf schedule in July 2019, I look forward to hosting that year’s Irish Open and will endeavour to make it a memorable event for all players and the huge Irish support the tournament always enjoys.”
“I’m absolutely delighted to have been asked to host the Irish Open and I’m looking forward to working with Colm McLoughlin and his team at Dubai Duty Free to continue the great work that Rory and the European Tour have done for the event over the last four years,” said Clarke.
“Everyone has seen what a success the British Masters has become with Ian, Luke, Lee and Justin all hosting the event. I think it’s great that we have Rory, Graeme and myself from Northern Ireland and then Paul and Padraig from the South.”
“There will be a natural rotation of the tournament around Ireland and I’m sure there will be a fair bit of competition between the lads to see who can put on the biggest and best tournament when we are the tournament host.”
“For me, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open should have a real festival atmosphere. Our fans are some of the best in the world and one of my main goals of hosting the Irish Open will be to make sure everyone – from the players and their families to the fans, to the caddies, the volunteers, marshals and officials – has an unforgettable week.”
Tourism Northern Ireland, Heineken and Bank of Ireland are among the sponsors of the 2018 tournament which takes place on the Donegal coast from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th July 2018.
Image Credit Ramsey Cardy, Sportsfile