Different Strokes: McDowell believes Irish Open hosting role a ‘huge privilege’

DJ in President’s fitness race . . . quote and tweets of the week . . . Larrazabal’s bag . . . Know the rules


The baton has been passed on, and Graeme McDowell – the 2010 US Open champion and a four-time Ryder Cup player – will take on the role of tournament host of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the next two years: at Mount Juliet in May, and most likely at Portstewart Golf Club in 2021.

There had been speculation that Pádraig Harrington would be press-ganged into adding tournament host duties next year on top of his Ryder Cup captaincy, but that was seen as too great a workload and G-Mac has stepped in to take on the role for a two-year stint.

He succeeds Paul McGinley, who hosted the tournament at Lahinch this year, while Rory McIlroy fulfilled the role for four years (from 2015 to 2018) during which time the Irish Open enjoyed a significant upgrading to become part of the elite Rolex Series on the European Tour.

In confirming his position as tournament host, McDowell described it as “a huge privilege” adding: “The event has gone from strength to strength over the last few years with the support of Dubai Duty Free and the efforts of Rory and Paul as hosts, alongside everybody at the European Tour.

“I’m really looking forward to taking on that responsibility over the next two years and adding to the history of this great event which has become a global spectacle that Irish golf fans can be proud of. My focus is on Mount Juliet next year and making sure that is another world-class sporting occasion.”

The DDF Irish Open reverts to a parkland venue for the first time since 2016, when it was staged at The K Club. Since then, it has been part of a so-called Links Swing – ahead of the Scottish and British Opens – but a clash of that July date with the WGC in Memphis in 2020 has seen the Irish Open move forward to a May date in the calendar. Jon Rahm is the defending champion.

Although no official confirmation of a venue for 2021 has been announced by the European Tour, that tournament is expected to be played at Portstewart, the venue in 2017 when Rahm claimed his first Irish Open title.

DJ wants to be one of the President’s men

The President’s Cup – scheduled for Royal Melbourne next week – has been hit by a number of injury casualties with world number one Brooks Koepka and Jason Day already sidelined . . . but Dustin Johnson is determined to make Tiger Woods’s United States team.

Although Johnson has withdrawn from this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where Jon Rahm defends his title in the limited-field tournament, he has signalled his intention to play on the USA team against the International team.

Having undergone arthroscopic surgery in September to repair cartilage damage in his left knee, DJ has stayed away from tournament golf since finishing last in the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta. He had pencilled in the Bahamas event as his return to competing only to take another week out, suggesting “another week of physical therapy and practice” would serve his preparations better.

Word of Mouth

“Last time it was too friendly. Quite bluntly, we want the home-crowd advantage and I’ll be disappointed if they are cheering enthusiastically for Tiger or anyone on the US team” – Adam Scott getting the message home early on what he expects from the home galleries at next week’s President’s Cup.

By the Numbers – 20,550

Jonathan Caldwell’s tied-14th finish in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopards Creek earned the Northern Irishman a payday of €20,550 in opening his European Tour account. Caldwell earned his full tour card through last month’s Q-School in Spain.

Twitter Twaddle

Loved that final round by @plarrazabal – everything that could go wrong did, distraught, so many negative thoughts running thru his head, can’t find a way out no matter how hard he tried – then suddenly one shot or birdie gave him hop – golf in a nutshell! Congrats Pablo – Luke Donald tipping the cap to Pablo Larrazabal after the Spaniard endured a rollercoaster ride to his win in the season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Great first week as a pro at the AV Jennings NSW Open. Very pleased to grind it out into the weekend. Thanks @golfnsw @PGAofAustralia for a well run week – Dubliner Conor Purcell on recovering from an opening round 74 to survive the cut and jump to tied-29th on his professional debut in the NSW Open on the Australasian Tour. Purcell is in the field for this week’s Emirates Australian Open, playing on a sponsor’s invitation following his Australian amateur title win earlier this year.

Sorry, my friend, almost slept through your big birthday! Guess I just didn’t want to hear you talk any more! Happy 80th Birthday Lee Trevino! Lee Buck, you’re not only one of the great players in golf history, but one of the great gentlemen and friends I am blessed to know! – Jack Nicklaus, the greatest of them all, wishing Supermex well in his, ahem, old age.

In the Bag - Pablo Larrazabal (Alfred Dunhill Championship)

Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (10.5 degrees)
3-wood: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (15 degrees)
5-wood: Callaway Epic Flash (18 degrees)
Irons: Callaway X-Forged Utility (24 degrees), Callaway X-Forged 18 (5-8 iron), Callaway Apex MB Irons (9-PW)
Wedges: Mack Daddy 4 (48, 56 and 60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Toulon Las Vegas
Ball: Chrome Soft X Triple Track

Know the Rules

On arriving onto the first tee for a match, Player A takes a weighted golf swing aid from his bag and proceeds to make a practice swing. His opponent, Player B, informs him he is in breach of Rule 4.3a/6 which prohibits the use of any type of golf training or swing aid to make a practice swing. Is he right?

Yes. Player A is in breach of the rule and subject to general penalty. Using any type of golf training or swing aid (such as an alignment rod or a weighted headcover) or a non-confirming club to make a practice swing or in any other way that creates a potential advantage by helping the player in preparing for or making a stroke (such as help with swing plane, grip, alignment, ball position or posture) breaches the rule.

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