How is this for yet another mouth-watering scenario for Irish golf; Graeme McDowell as the 2026 European Ryder Cup Captain with Irish-born Major winners, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry in his team teeing-up on Irish soil at Adare Manor.
That is the prospect staring at the Emerald Isle following confirmation the Co. Limerick course will play host to one of sport’s greatest events.
For McIlroy, it will mark 20-years since he was a keen teenaged spectator at the K Club with the four-time Major champ naturally excited at the prospect of being a member of the European Ryder Cup team in seven years time at Adare Manor.
It was no surprise Adare Manor was handed the biennial event in seven years given the multi-million euro makeover of the Co. Limerick course that played host to the 2007 and 2008 Irish Opens, and that will play host venue to next year’s JP McManus Pro-Am.
McDowell will be 46 when the Ryder Cup rolls into town and although he will still harbour playing ambitions of his own, a captaincy role would seem a natural progression for the Portrush man following the likely choice of Lee Westwood in 2022 and Ian Poulter in 2024.
The news though was very timely coming three days after Shane Lowry delivered Ireland its fifth Open Championship in 13-years and a 10th Major title in the same period.
McIlroy made his Ryder Cup debut in 2010 at Celtic Manor and has now represented Europe every year since. If selected in every European Team from Whistling Straits to Adare Manor, then 2026 will be McIlroy’s ninth team cap.
He will be aged 36 by the time the Ryder Cup arrives at Adare Manor leaving him still ripe for competing.
“JP (McManus) has invested a lot of money into Adare Manor,” said McIlroy who is contesting this week’s WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.
“He has improved the hotel facilities and completely re-laid new turf, so it’s going to be a great venue.
“It’s really cool and I’m so happy for JP and his family and everyone involved with Adare that it’s there.
“I mean, it’s going to be a great venue. I think that the venues that you’re going to have the next few years, obviously we had Paris last year, we’re going to go to Rome in 2022 and now Adare Manor.”
McIlroy’s first taste of Ryder Cup competition was in 2006 at the K Club with the then 17-year old walking the fairways as Ian Woosnam’s men stormed their way to an emotional nine-point victory.
“Adare Manor will be the 20th anniversary of the Ryder Cup going to Ireland at the K Club for the first time and I still remember being there as a 17-year-old and shouting and cheering them on,” said McIlroy.
“Hopefully I’m involved in that team. Yeah, I’m very excited. It’s obviously a long time to go, there’s a few Ryder Cups to play before that, but yeah, it’s wonderful that it’s back in Ireland.”