The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has been included in a new Rolex Series of the seven biggest events on the European Tour.
Aside from the profile among the world’s leading players the inclusion also means a boost of almost 40 per cent in prize money in 2017 with a prize fund now of $7 million.
The rise in value of the tournament has been staggering, climbing from what was seen in 2015 as a valuable €2.5 million at Royal County Down to €4 million this year at the K Club.
Inclusion on the Rolex Series has also opened the door to a later staging of the Irish Open which will next year take place at Portstewart between July 6th and 9th only two weeks before the Open Championship in Britain.
Dubai Duty Free was introduced to the sponsorship by Rory McIlroy whose Foundation is a Host of the tournament. His involvement in promoting the event cannot be underestimated and it is not a stretch to draw a direct line from his involvement to this massive step up in stature and funding.
The increase in 2017 is being underwritten by Rolex and the European Tour alongside the boost that is needed for the BMW PGA Event at Wentworth in May and the Scottish Open.
The other four tournaments in the new series are already at the required prize money level. The Italian Open at the Olgiata Golf Club in Rome in October, the Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in South Africa, and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“We are delighted to unveil the Rolex Series today and we are committed to developing and building on it over the coming years,” said Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour.
“The Rolex Series will celebrate the highest quality of golf and the international spirit of the game; values that Rolex and the European Tour strengthen with this announcement.”
“We are tremendously proud to have Rolex as our partner in this exciting new venture and we thank them for their continued support.”
Rolex has been a partner and Official Timekeeper of the European Tour since 1997.
This is an innovative advancement in professional European golf,” said Rolex Director of Communication & Image, Arnaud Boetsch.
“Rolex has enjoyed a unique alliance with golf for over fifty years and this is the most recent development of Rolex’s enduring commitment to the game.
“Across junior, amateur and elite levels, Rolex is devoted to golf’s development worldwide, and we look forward to being a part of the flourishing future of The European Tour.”
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