Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry call for Irish Open date change

Pair suggest that the week after the British Open could attract a strong field

Shane Lowry and his caddy Brian Martin make their way up the 18th fairway during day four of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Shane Lowry and his caddy Brian Martin make their way up the 18th fairway during day four of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Two short questions. When? Where? The answers to when and where future Dubai Duty Free Irish Opens should find a place in the European Tour’s calendar aren’t entirely straightforward, although Rory McIlroy - for one - is inclined to think that it is worth considering moving it to a new date in the week immediately after the British Open.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the European Tour and where they see this event. I don’t think it is the ideal date, I don’t know what the ideal date is. I mean, the Scottish Open is locked in before The Open, which is understandable. The world ranking points for first place next week is close to 60, this week is 28,” said McIlroy.

Shane Lowry is another who believes it is worth trying out the week after the season’s final Major and McIlroy is also now of the same opinion.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing it going back to the week after The Open when the weather might encourage a few guys (who play on the PGA Tour) to stay one more week . . . also, being after the Open might be nice for us, maybe selfishly, because we could relax more with having the last Major of the season over. (As it is) Our focus is on here (the Irish Open) but with having one eye towards what’s going to happen in a couple of weeks,” said McIlroy.

Various dates

Through the years, the Irish Open has occupied various dates in the tour calendar, ranging from May to June to July and, historically, mainly in August. On only two occasions in the modern era - in 2003 and 2004 - did the tournament occupy the week after The Open.

“We’ve tried a few dates. In May it worked when I was hosting and I said I’d do favours of other players and they come over. Selfishly, I can’t keep doing that every year. It should certainly be one of the strongest events in Europe because it’s been on schedule for so long. That’s something the European Tour will have to talk about,” said McIlroy.

As far as own commitment to playing in future Irish Opens, McIlroy insisted: “I’ll try and play every Irish Open if it makes sense and suits what I’m going to do. There’s been a couple, last year at Galgorm with Covid, and then the decision I made not to play at Lahinch (in 2019) thinking, ‘okay, well, I’m going to be playing in Ireland (at the Royal Portrush Open) in a couple of weeks’ time and I wanted to play the Scottish and maybe three in a row wasn’t right prep. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the right idea. I’ve no plans to skip (the Irish Open in future years). I love playing in front of these crowds. I wish I gave them more to shout about this week.”

Graeme McDowell, who has put his hand up to act as tournament host next year, wherever the tournament is played, be it North or south, suggested the current week in the calendar is not ideal: “Unfortunately, when we turn the TV on this Thursday (for the Scottish Open) we are going to see a stark contrast and see how bad this field really is compared to what they have next week. So it is a bad date, there is no doubt about it. US guys don’t want to travel two weeks before a Major.”

While not entirely convinced about the week after The Open, McDowell observed: “I always think the week after a Major is very hard. But if Rory and Shane want it the week after The Open, having them here is 75 per cent of the challenge and I will obviously support if and we can at all times. They’re hugely important. I’d be asking those two guys first, I’d be making everything they want happen. Rory and myself, we can get in a few American guys’ ears and say, ‘listen, stay on another week’.”

Leading Irish

Lowry, for his part, reserved his best play until the final round as a closing 66 for a total of nine-under-par 279 which left him as leading Irish player in tied-23rd position. “I didn’t really hit any bad shots,” said Lowry of a round where he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation (and the one he missed, the 18th, was by inches) in what was his last competitive round before his defence of the Claret Jug at Royal St Georges.

For the coming week, Lowry plans on preparing by playing some links golf, perhaps even replicating the courses - Portmarnock, Baltray and Adare Manor - that he played before his win at Royal Portush two years ago.

Cormac Sharvin was “disappointed” with a closing round 72 for 281 (tied-33rd), while Graeme McDowell closed with a 74 for 285 (tied-56th) and Rory McIlroy a 74 for 286 (tied-59th). All three Northern Irishmen are in the field for the Scottish Open at The Renaissance, where Sharvin and McDowell will be chasing the last exemptions into the following week’s Major.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.