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Thursday, September 24, 2020

McIlroy twisting Scottish arms to switch dates with Irish Open

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Rory McIlroy would agree to contest the Scottish Open for ‘a few years’ if event sponsors and the European Tour agree to allow the staging of the 2019 Irish Open the week prior the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.


McIlroy has been in discussion with Tour CEO, Keith Pelly and also organisers of the Scottish Open hoping both will see the worth and practicality of a one-off swap of weeks in 2019.

If successful, it would mean the 2019 Irish Open commencing on July 11th with many of those playing in The Open, including McIlroy, needing to travel to Portrush for the historic 148th Open Championship.

But it all hinges on Martin Gilbert and head of Standard Life Aberdeen who are long-time Scottish Open sponsors.

Lahinch is being touted as a possible venue for the first Paul McGinley hosted Irish Open in 2019 and it would be clearly common sense for players to travel to Lahinch and then onto Portrush, instead of onto Scotland and then crossing back over the Irish Sea again a week later for golf’s oldest Major.

“It would be great if the Scottish Open could just switch with us for this one year,” said McIlroy during last week’s Honda Classic.

“We have asked Keith Pelley and he advised me he’s asked Martin Gilbert if he would agree to swap dates with the Irish event just for this one-year next year.”

“It might mean I would agree to play the Scottish Open for a few years but I don’t know. Hopefully, they will agree as it would be just for one year and it would just make it so easy for those contesting The Open.”

“But then everyone has their own individual agenda, so we’ll see.”

And while McIlroy has single-handedly elevated the Irish Open to a new level on the world golf stage he revealed he’s not entirely a huge fan of the early holes of the now 126-year old Lahinch course.

“It would not be my favourite golf course down in that part of Ireland as there are a lot of blind holes,” he said.

“I contested the Ireland Youth Inter-Provincials there in 2003 and while it is a decent start to the course, you then have those funny holes at four, five and then at ‘The Dell’ at six but then when you get into the middle of the course and out along the water, the course is very good.”

“It is a links golf course and that is what we want, also to move it about the country.”

“I always felt an Irish Open is better when you move it to those parts of the country where it should be seen to be held and while you could argue it should be always held around Dublin there is always so much going on that is doesn’t quite attract the crowds that it would at golf courses such as Lahinch, Portstewart or Royal Portrush as we saw a few years back.”

“But in saying that it is going to be an unbelievable couple of weeks for Irish golf and I would just love it if the Scottish switched with us for a year”.

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