McIlroy to prove a massive draw at Carton House


Pádraig Harrington may hold the bragging rights in terms of Major titles in his back pocket, but he has no doubts who packs the biggest punch in terms of drawing power for next year’s Irish Open at Carton House, outside Maynooth – Rory McIlroy!

“There is only one chance to watch Rory play golf this year, that’s it,” said three-time Major champion Harrington in yesterday launching advance ticket sales for the Irish Open which takes place on June 27th-30th, a prized slot in the European Tour calendar.

George O’Grady, the chief executive of the PGA European Tour, concurred that McIlroy’s confirmed presence in the field was important to the tournament’s success. “It would be daft if we didn’t make absolutely sure that Rory, while he is number one in the world, plays in the Irish Open and this date is doable for him.”

Although next year’s tournament has the task of following the record-breaking attendances which descended on Royal Portrush for this year’s edition of the championship, Harrington claimed that the Irish Open was “back on the map” as far as leading tour players were concerned following the advances made at Killarney in 2010 and 2011 and Portrush this year.

“The buzz created in Portrush should be carried on to Carton House. It’s the perfect venue, adjacent to Dublin. It has a lot to live up to (after Portrush) but it should be a winner. The success (of Killarney and Portrush) will only help going forward. Portrush was the top event (on tour in 2012) and you’d rather reach for the highest standards to match than reach for an average standard. We have to keep up with that (standard),” said Harrington.

McIlroy’s commitment – along with Ireland’s other Major winners of recent years  in Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke – is a huge boost to the Irish Open.

An A-1 event

“You’ve got to make sure you get Rory,” added Harrington. “The Irish Open is an A-1 event. Players are wanting to play in it. They’re not finding that it fits their schedule, they’re trying to fit it into their schedule.

“It’s an important event. If you win the Irish Open, it has that little bit of stature on tour. You’ve won a quality event.”

In drawing an analogy with the English Premier League, Harrington remarked: “Some of the top premiership teams had spells where they dropped down the league. We were a top premiership team for a long time, the Irish Open was right there and we intend to get back there . . . it is fantastic to have Rory.

“His schedule is the US Open-Irish Open-The Open. (Spectators) are going to get a lot closer to him at the Irish Open than they would at the US Open or the (British) Open, it’s that bit friendlier and more relaxed.”

The prize fund for the tournament – still without a title sponsor – won’t be confirmed until early next year, but it is expected to be up on this year’s €2 million. The tournament will be played over the Montgomerie course, which last staged it in 2006 when Stephen Dodd won.

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