Updated: Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 18:52 | Comments
The Irish Open will be held in Northern Ireland in 2015 and 2017, it has been confirmed.
Royal County Down GC will host the event in 2015, at the earlier date of 28-31 May – it is being held at Fota Island Resort this year on 19-22 June – and it will be held in Lough Erne Resort in 2017.
Next year’s will be the first time in 76 years that the event will be held at the Newcastle, Co Down course.
It will be the second time in 60 years the Irish Open will be held in Northern Ireland, following 2012’s tournament at Royal Portrush.
“The Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 captured the imagination of the country after a lengthy absence,” said George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour.
“We are delighted to confirm today that the tournament will be back in Northern Ireland next year, at another magnificent links venue in Royal County Down, before returning again in 2017 at Lough Erne Resort.”
O’Grady credited a suggestion by Rory McIlroy as the “catalyst” for the tournament returning to Northern Ireland.
“To have played Portrush in 2012 and to be heading to Royal County Down next year is very special” – Graeme McDowell
Reacting to the announcement, McIlroy called it “fantastic news”, and said he was delighted to have the chance to play at Royal County Down.
“I’m sure the fans will come out and support us again and make it another week to remember,” McIroy said.
Graeme McDowell also voiced enthusiasm for the plan, saying: “There are few better golf courses in the world to play than Royal County Down so it’s all good as far as I am concerned.
“It’s important that the fans get to see their favourite players north and south, so we support the Irish Open always no matter where it is, but as Northern Irish players, to have played Portrush in 2012 and to be heading to Royal County Down next year is very special.”