As we predicted last October, the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation will return to Northern Ireland with Portstewart Golf Club confirmed as the host venue from July 6-9.
Founded in 1894 and long considered one of the country’s finest links courses, Portstewart will be staging a European Tour event for the first time when tournament host Rory McIlroy defends his title there next summer.
The change of date means the events will be the first of three links events in a row before The Open at Royal Birkdale with Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links retaining its prime date, the week before the game's oldest Major.
It will be the third time in six years that Ireland’s national Open has been held in the north, with Royal Portrush playing host in 2012 – when advanced tickets sold out for the first time in European Tour history – and Royal County Down taking over in 2015.
Set on Ulster’s stunning Causeway Coast, Portstewart features three 18-hole layouts, with the Des Giffin-designed Strand Course – which will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – considered the jewel in the crown.
Michael Moss, General Manager of Portstewart Golf Club, said: “We are delighted to team up with The European Tour to host the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“The Club will embrace the challenge, and we have no doubt that the Strand Course will provide nothing less than a worthy test of golf.”
Enhanced in 1986 on natural links land known as ‘Thistly Hollow’, the Strand Course has hosted numerous amateur tournaments including one strokeplay qualifying round for the 2014 Amateur Championship, which was won by Bradley Neil.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Dubai Duty Free, said: “Next year will mark our third as title sponsor of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and our second time in Northern Ireland, where in 2015 we saw first-hand how enthusiastic and loyal the golf fans are.
“We are looking forward to working with the European Tour and the Rory Foundation on delivering another fantastic tournament, and one that the players, spectators and a global TV audience will remember for some time to come.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to announce that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation will be staged at Portstewart in 2017.
“Thanks in no small part to Rory McIlroy’s personal commitment alongside that of his Foundation, the Irish Open has unquestionably grown in stature over recent years. We also must thank our partners in the championship – title sponsors Dubai Duty Free and the Northern Ireland Government – for their continued vision and commitment not only to this event, but to the European Tour as a whole.
“Northern Ireland has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable golf fans in the world and I know how much our members enjoyed the recent Irish Opens at Royal Portrush and Royal County Down. I have no doubt that next year’s edition at Portstewart will add another memorable chapter to the history of this great championship.”
Barry Funston, CEO of the Rory Foundation, said: “Since the Rory Foundation began hosting the Irish Open in 2015, we have seen the tournament go from strength to strength. We view the Irish Open as a platform for positive change, enabling the Rory Foundation to activate innovative and impactful initiatives in the areas of most need.
“Having the tournament return to Northern Ireland is very special to us, and I have no doubt that huge crowds will come along to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to see Rory defend his title on the links of Portstewart.”
McIlroy said: “Portstewart is an excellent links course and one of Northern Ireland’s hidden gems, so it’s great news that we are taking the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open there next year. Winning at The K Club earlier this year was without doubt one of the highlights of my career, and I’m already looking forward to defending my title at Portstewart next July.
“The crowds at Portrush and Royal County Down were unbelievable, and I’m sure the people of Northern Ireland will come out to support the tournament again next year.”
For more information about tickets and corporate hospitality visit dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.