Rory McIlroy mania has made the €1.5m Irish Open even bigger than the second coming of Elvis.
But the Holywood star won’t be “All Shook Up” when he tees it up in Killarney from July 28-31 as special security measures will be put in place to keep Rory’s ravers in check.
Hailing McIlroy as a megastar with the common touch of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, European Tour boss George O’Grady said: “Padraig had the same thing when he came back to Ireland as a major champion. But this kid now is a megastar.
“He’s a megastar in the way he conducts himself and I don’t know how he handles it.
“He was at Wentworth yesterday filming and he was exhausted. But he still had time to put his head around the door of the European Tour office and smile and sign autographs and have his picture taken.
“This is Elvis Presley sort of stuff.”
Comparing McIlroy mania to the kind of hysteria created by the young Tiger Woods, O’Grady revealed that special crowd control measures will be put in place at the Kerry venue this year.
O’Grady said: “It is like the Tiger-effect. If the passageways are too tight, everybody wants to shake your hand.
“And Rory would shake everybody’s hand but you have to widen the spaces now so that people can’t get that close.
“When you think of Rory and the hassle he gets, he is probably going to get even more in Ireland because everyone is his pal.
“So we will have to adjust the crowd control and make it a bit more like the Ryder Cup where we will have big, wide walkways from tees to greens and in other places.”
Without a replacement sponsor since mobile phone company 3 pulled the plug last year, the prize fund has been slashed in half to just €1.5m.
But the tour is confident that it will be able to announce a major new sponsor next year, leaving them to pick up the €3m costs with the help of a €1.25 million injection from Failte Ireland as well as investments by some smaller sponsors and wealthy individuals.
Several high profile Irish businessmen are believed to be involved, including multi-millionaire racing tycoon JP McManus.
Hoping to top last year’s 82,000 crowds and build a massive event going forward, O’Grady said: “The prize fund of €1.5m is not critical this year. We have great confidence for the future.”