Despite taking more of a ‘hands off’ approach towards the PGA Tour’s Saudi Arabia deal, Rory McIlroy hopes the Irish Open will be able to get a piece of the action and be given a slot on the 2025 schedule.
While he admits he is “less emotionally involved” in the PGA Tour’s off course dealings he wants to see a more international PGA Tour which includes the Irish Open as a potential tournament.
“I think the schedule looks good. I’m excited about Pebble Beach being a signature event and having all the best guys go there. That will be a cool thing, one of the most iconic golf courses in the world, and having a big field like that will be cool,” said McIlroy.
“And I’ve said this, I would like to see more of an international flavor going forward, trying to incorporate some of the you know, with this strategic alliance with the DP World Tour trying to incorporate some of the other — we’ve got the co-sanctioned Scottish Open, but it would be great to see Wentworth or Ireland or something in continental Europe, whatever it is, I think that would be hopefully something that happens in the future.”
McIlroy will of course be returning to the K Club, the site of his only Irish Open win to date (2016) with a stellar field set to tee it up in Kildare in a fortnight including Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Min Woo Lee and Billy Horschel.
Meanwhile, Tom McKibbin will make his first professional appearance at the Horizon Irish Open.
The 20-year-old became the youngest winner from the island of Ireland on the DP World Tour since Rory McIlroy when he triumphed at the Porsche European Open earlier this month, as he produced a display of maturity beyond his years in Hamburg to win by two strokes.
A product of Holywood Golf Club, the same club where McIlroy honed his skills as a junior, McKibbin made his Irish Open debut in 2020 as an amateur and then turned professional the following year. He earned his DP World Tour card for 2023 after finishing inside the Top 20 on the European Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca Rankings and secured his maiden victory on just his 26th start.
McKibbin secured his place at this year’s Horizon Irish Open as the leading player from the island of Ireland at last year’s Irish Challenge, which was also held at The K Club, finishing runner-up to Todd Clements.
“I can’t wait to play the Horizon Irish Open later this year,” said McKibbin. “Since securing my place after my runner-up finish at the Irish Challenge last year, this is an event I’ve really been looking forward to playing. I made my first appearance in the tournament three years ago but it was during Covid restrictions, so to have the crowds there in full voice will be unforgettable.
“The K Club is a superb venue and I’m excited to play in front of the home crowds again in September.”