European Tour scraps Irish Open Qualifier idea
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be powered by (l-r) Michael Davern, Chief Executive, The K Club, Barry Funston, Chief Executive, the Rory Foundation, Antonia Beggs, European Tour, George Horan, President Dubai Duty Free and Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI). Picture © Fran Caffrey | Golffile

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be powered by (l-r) Michael Davern, Chief Executive, The K Club, Barry Funston, Chief Executive, the Rory Foundation, Antonia Beggs, European Tour, George Horan, President Dubai Duty Free and Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI). Picture © Fran Caffrey | Golffile

There will be no Irish Open Qualifier this year after all with the European Tour confirming on Monday that it has decided to maintain "the status quo" for the Dubai Duty Free sponsored event at The K Club in May.

Last year's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open featured a £50,000 AAM Scottish Open Qualifier for five places as part of the PGA schedule in Scotland.

But plans to do something similar in Ireland and take away some or all of the traditional six spots awarded to the leading players from the PGA Irish Region's Order of Merit in the preceding season have not worked out.

Just last week, PGA Irish Region Secretary Michael McCumiskey said he had heard nothing from the European Tour about any proposed Irish Open Qualifier.

According to a spokesperson for the European Tour: "After ongoing talks about a possible qualifier, it has been decided that there will no change this year at The K Club and the status quo will be maintained with regard to the spots awarded to the players from the PGA Irish Region."

The Qualifier initiative was intended to get the PGA professionals and amateurs more involved in the Irish Open.

Tournament host Rory McIlroy has written a letter to every golf club in Ireland, requesting that they come together to support this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which takes place at The K Club in County Kildare from May 19-22,

He has also produced his personal five-point plan to help clubs and their members to get involved.

  1. Play in the Pro-Am competition – The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Club Challenge. Title sponsor Dubai Duty Free is offering one lucky team from an Irish golf club the unique opportunity to play in this year’s Pro-Am.  So Rory, in conjunction with the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU), is asking all clubs in Ireland, north and south, to use existing competitions to find a Men’s and Ladies’ champion (Junior members also eligible to compete) to represent their club in regional qualifiers in late April with a national final to be held on the Smurfit Course at The K Club in early May.  The overall winning team, which will also include an official nominated by the winning club, will receive a team invitation to compete alongside a top professional in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am.  Full details on how to enter will be available at www.golfnet.ie.
  2. The Irish Open Skills Challenge - to encourage young golfers to be the best that they can be, Rory has teamed up with Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) and The European Tour to encourage golf clubs to take part in this competition which is designed to help children under the age of 15 to develop their Putting, Chipping, Iron Play and Driving skills in a team environment. Rory is asking every club in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to enter an U15 Boys’ team and an U15 Girls’ team in the provincial qualifiers, with four players per team – each specialising in one of the four particular skills.  The four individual skill scores are combined to make up a final team score and the winning team from the national final will win a unique ‘meet and greet’ opportunity with a top player at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am.  Full details on how to enter will be available at www.golfnet.ie.
  3. Get Into Golf With Rory – one of Rory’s key aims this year is to encourage children who have never picked up a club to take an interest in golf.  So he has joined forces with the CGI to develop an exciting new schools programme called Get Into Golf With Rory. Throughout the country, more than 30 clubs have been selected to run a five-week primary school coaching programme with follow-on activities and membership packages.  Schools have yet to be selected but the overall aim of the programme is to offer thousands of primary school pupils the opportunity to get their first taste of golf and create a pathway to continue golf in their local golf club.  Full details on the Get Into Golf With Rory programme will be available at www.golfnet.ie. 
  4. Group deals for Clubs – from his early days at Holywood Golf Club, Rory has always loved the camaraderie and community spirit of golf clubs so this year he is encouraging clubs to enjoy the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open experience as a club.  To help with this, the European Tour and Rory have created a number of special ticket and coach offers that are exclusive to golf clubs.  So hop on board – and why not bring the family too for a great day out!  What’s more, Rory will give the top four clubs who bring the most members as a group a personally signed Pin Flag to proudly display in their clubhouse!  Details on how clubs can travel as a group to this year’s Irish Open will be available at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com
  5. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Club Ambassadors – it takes someone very special to bring these ideas together for the club so Rory is asking every golf club in Ireland to nominate one individual as its Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Ambassador who will be the main point of contact for all of these proposed club initiatives – and all things relating to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.  Clubs wanting to nominate their Ambassador should email kate@cgigolf.org