McGinley rules out back-to-back Irish Open hosting duties
McIlroy to resume competitive play at Scottish Open alongside Dunne, McDowell and Harrington
Northern Ireland’s Cormac Sharvin at the Irish Open in Lahinch. He has jumped to 404th from 479th in the world rankings on the back of his top 15 finish. Photograph: Reuters/Peter Cziborra
If anything the success of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch – where the aggregate attendance figures of 86,793 were augmented by the wonderful atmosphere, the quality of the course and a gold-star champion in Jon Rahm – only served to underline the ability to think outside the box to make things work.
Paul McGinley, the tournament host, deserves great credit for daring to take the championship to Lahinch, where the host club, Clare County Council and the Garda worked with the PGA European Tour to ensure it maintained its reputation as one of the premier events on circuit this side of the Atlantic.
However, McGinley has ruled himself out of doing back-to-back hosting duties. And while he has a role in some decision-making at European Tour level as he is a member of the board and the tournament committee, the Dubliner will not be as closely involved in the mechanisms for next year’s tournament at a time and place yet to be decided.
“The condensed schedule next year, it’s put a challenge on us. Next year is accentuated by the fact it’s an Olympic year and Ryder Cup year. When you put all those into the melting pot it makes it difficult, it makes it challenging.
“Honestly, I met with Keith Pelley [last Friday]. He doesn’t know; he has no idea where we’re going, and we don’t know the [tournament] host yet. It might be Pádraig [Harrington] but we haven’t confirmed that, honestly, and we haven’t confirmed the venue, and we haven’t confirmed the date,” said McGinley.
“But like all things it will be resolved. It mightn’t be resolved in a perfect way because I don’t think there is a perfect way. But we will resolve it.”
The biggest fly in the ointment, so to speak, is the understanding that the PGA Tour wants to move forward the WGC-St Jude Classic to the same date in the calendar currently occupied by the Irish Open. On the last occasion such a clash happened (when the then WGC-Bridgestone was held directly against the French Open) the European Tour decided not to award Ryder Cup points to its players who competed in Akron over Paris.
“I don’t know if that would really work to be honest,” said McGinley when asked if that could be the case again in the event of a clash next year.
“We’re working very closely with the PGA Tour, a lot closer than we have ever done. Relations between the PGA and European Tours are really strong, harmonious. I know this date, this Irish Open, is high on the agenda in the communication between Keith and Jay [Monahan, of the PGA Tour].”
That meeting between the two tour chiefs is scheduled to take place at Royal Portrush next week during the 148th British Open championship, when a clearer picture will emerge on how or if a clash can be averted.
On the tournament front this week, Rory McIlroy – who bypassed Lahinch last week as part of his scheduling aimed at peaking for next week’s final Major of the season – resumes competitive play at the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club outside Edinburgh. McIlroy is joined in the field by Paul Dunne – who needs a top 10 finish to have a chance of earning his ticket to Portrush – Graeme McDowell and Harrington.
After their fine performances in Lahinch, Cormac Sharvin – who jumped to 404th from 479th in the world rankings on the back of his top 15 finish – and Robin Dawson return to the Challenge Tour to compete in the Le Vaudreuil Challenge, where they are joined by Paul McBride, Gavin Moynihan, Michael Hoey and Ruaidhrí McGee.
Stephanie Meadow will be looking to end a run of missed cuts when competing in the Marathon Classic in Ohio, while Leona Maguire – currently third in the Symetra Tour order of merit – is back in action in the Donald Ross Classic in Indiana.-