Dubai Duty Free ready help Tour's €7m Irish Open ambitions
Keith Pelley, Rory McIlroy and Colm McLoughlin

Keith Pelley, Rory McIlroy and Colm McLoughlin

Irish Open sponsor Colm McLoughlin hopes the Irish Open can become one of the European Tour’s €7million mega-tournaments.

The chief executive and executive vice chairman has brought Dubai Duty Free  on board until 2018 with an option for two more years.

And while he’s hoping the Tour gives the Irish Open a better date, closer to June’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, he’s also keen to help grow the prize fund.

A Galway native, McLoughlin said: “The Tour has raised the prize money this year to €4 million and we know they have an ambition that it would be one of four or five tournaments in Europe with a prize fund of €7m. 

“Now, I'm not sure what their date for that is but I do see it growing over the next couple of years.”

Despite talk of Portstewart, McLoughlin hinted that it could remain at The K Club for another year 

He said: “We were recommending for a long time that it be held at The K Club and we're delighted it is. I think it’s a fantastic venue, it's near the airport, it's near Dublin. 

“I guess the crowd that attend this week would be a deciding factor in where it might be held next year and while I would think we'd have a say in it, I think it's really the Tour that decides.”

As for the possibility of a date near The Open that might attract US players, he said: “We would like if it was later in the year and the Tour are looking at that but I don't know their full thinking on it really. 

“If we were looking at it from a purely selfish point of view with Dubai Duty Free we would like it very close to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (June 25 this year).

“Either the week before it or the week after would suit us fine. But the schedule of the Tour, I don’t know.”