Rory McIlroy admits he’s yet to make up his mind over whether or not to commit to this year’s Irish Open which returns to Mount Juliet Estate from June 30 to July 3.
McIlroy played all four rounds last year in Kilkenny but managed to break par only once on a week where he finished in a lowly tie for 59th having won the tournament at the K Club in 2016.
Two weeks out from The Open, McIlroy travelled to the Renaissance Club a week later in Scotland where he missed the cut before tying 46th at Royal St. George’s.
And with the Irish Open again sitting in that awkward slot two weeks out from this year’s 150th Open at St. Andrews, McIlroy was hesitant to commit to a repeat of last year’s Open prep.
“I haven’t made my decision yet,” McIlroy told media ahead of this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
“I know I’m playing a lot of golf in the States around that time of year – Memorial, Canada, US Open & Travelers, so, we’ll see. I honestly haven’t made that decision yet but when I do, I’ll certainly let you know.”
If McIlroy does opt out of a trip home, it would be a hammer blow to the tournament that begs the question – why is an Irish Open two weeks out from the Open Championship not being played on a links?
The game’s current number one player, Jon Rahm admitted last year that he decided to skip the Irish Open and forego his hat-trick bid at a tournament he previously promised never to miss, because it impacted his Open preparations:
“Well, in the past, I’ve played the Irish Open, and this year because it wasn’t a links golf [course], I decided to play this one,” Rahm said, having picked the Scottish Open instead.
“It is a better way to get prepared for The Open Championship.”
Of course, there’s still plenty of time for McIlroy to commit to the Irish Open between now and June, an event he says he’d “love to see it co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour in the future – I think that would be a wonderful thing for the event.”
However, the fact he isn’t firm in his mind already speaks volumes that a trip to Mount Juliet simply doesn’t suit his Open prep two weeks out from St. Andrews, and who could possibly disagree with that?