The Irish Open will be played just a week after next year’s US Open at Pinehurst with US-based Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell already guaranteed as the star attractions.
According to a reliable source, the event will swap dates with the BMW International Open in Munich and take place the week after the season’s second major from June 19-22 rather than at the end of the month, its date for the last two editions.
We also understand that the European Tour could be about to introduce a new rule for 2014, obliging players to tee it up in their “home open” or play two events from a shortlist of selected tournaments to help boost fields.
The idea is in keeping with comments made by Colin Montgomerie at the end of last year after 10 of the 12-man side that won the Ryder Cup at Medinah decided to join the PGA Tour this season.
“It’s very difficult and we have to sit down and try to address this,” said Montgomerie, who is a member of the European Tour’s powerful Tournament Committee.
“Sponsorship is getting harder and the first thing a sponsor asks is, ‘who’s playing?’,” he added. “He wants as many Ryder Cup players as possible. It’s important for the future of European golf.”
In the case of the Irish Open, the venue has yet to be confirmed as the European Tour remains in wait-and-see mode in the event that a new title sponsor materialises at the last minute.
But two-time major winner McIlroy has told the European Tour that he has no problem with a move from the Montgomerie to the O’Meara Course at Carton House .
The change of date would also suit McIlroy, who plans to play more European Tour events next year and has already pencilled in Dubai Desert Classic and the Scottish Open.
Barring a win in the Masters, he could to skip the flagship BMW PGA at Wentworth after missing the cut there for the last two years.
Adding Scotland to his schedule for the first time in four years should keep the tour blazers happy if he decides to skip the tour’s flagship event.
And a week of links golf at Royal Aberdeen also help McIlroy build up to the following week’s Open Championship at Hoylake after his flops in the world’s biggest major for the past two seasons.
Admitting he got his schedule wrong this year, McIlroy said recently: “I don’t feel I got my schedule right, taking time off before The Open in the last couple of years.
“Royal Aberdeen is exactly the sort of tough links course I need to play to get in the right frame of mind for Hoylake.
“I’m pleased to be able to compete a bit more in Europe. All right, Omega sponsor the Dubai tournament and they are also one of my sponsors, so I have a good reason to play there.
“But I also want to play, and so would have played whether Omega were involved or not. I missed it this year — it was a mistake on my part not to play.”
The proposed new Irish Open date has just one drawback — it clashes with the British Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart.