McGinley promises more star names for Lahinch showpiece

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McGinley promises more star names for Lahinch showpiece

Lahinch Golf Club / Image from Getty Images

Tournament host, Paul McGinley is confident of adding more star names to a Dubai Duty Free Irish Open field that’s already beginning to take shape ahead of what promises to be a festival of golf at Lahinch GC from July 4-7.

Having already secured the likes of former Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood, Abu Dhabi champion, Shane Lowry, former Masters champion, Danny Willet and current European Ryder Cup Captain, Padraig Harrington, unsurprisingly, McGinley continues to leave no stone unturned as he attempts to add depth to an already impressive starting line-up.

“In relative terms, all things considered, we’re going to be in very good shape,” said McGinley, who cited this year’s condensed schedule as a difficult obstacle to overcome when getting players to commit to County Clare.

“A lot of players are still undecided. They want to get the Masters done before they look at the second part of the season. Everyone’s kind of feeling their way with this new schedule and that’s where we’re at.

“At the moment in professional golf, the players make their own schedules and as much as you can contact everyone – and I have – the top-50 in the rankings and the top people in the Race to Dubai, it’s up to them whether they can come or not.

”Indeed, the Tour player turned esteemed pundit has been extracting every last benefit from his role with Sky Sports golf over the last number of months to personally add his weight behind any formal invite as he looks to sway anyone on the fence to his Lahinch starting field this July.

“It’s been hugely beneficial,” he added. “I’ve been able to speak to everybody at some stage over the last few weeks and months. I’m doing my best to get as strong a field as I can and I feel like we’re in pretty good shape for what will be a great Irish Open.

“Obviously Rory not coming is a big blow but we’re going to have some big name there – there’s no doubt about that – all household names. A lot of them still haven’t committed for various reasons but they’ve kind of assured me behind the scenes that ‘yeah, I’m going to be playing’ and we’ll go about making announcements about them in the next few months. But it may well be May until we get a clear picture of who exactly is going to be playing.”

Given McIlroy’s imperious form so far this calendar year, McGinley was asked whether he had moved on from the world number four’s withdrawal. His response was unequivocal. “We’ve taken the hit and moved on,” he confirmed.

“The Irish Open is bigger than Rory McIlroy and he’d be the first to admit that – look at all the great champions we’ve had in the past.

“The Irish Open will always be in the schedule. It’s a hugely important tournament with a huge title. We’re going to have a strong field. All things considered we’re going to be ahead of where all reasonable expectations can be and that’s important.

“Obviously Rory’s playing incredibly well at the moment. It highlights it even more that this is probably the best golf he’s played in four or five years and we won’t have him but we move on. The Irish Open is a great date in the schedule, a great tournament in itself and a great title and it’s not going to be defined by whether Rory McIlroy’s plays or not.”

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