McIlroy leads calls for better Irish Open date

McIlroy leads calls for better Irish Open date

Shane Lowry believes Rory McIlroy’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open victory can go a long way towards getting a mid-summer date and avoiding weather mayhem.

As another rain-lashed championship came to an end, Lowry watched McIlroy coming down the stretch and immediately thought of tournament sponsor Dubai Duty Free, who are keen to remain at The K Club and have the event nearer the Irish Derby at the end of June.

Lowry said: “I’m sure Colm McLoughlin is in there, down on his hands and knees praying that Rory is going to win. It's massive for the tournament if Rory wins.”

McIlroy completed the job in sensational style with his birdie-par-eagle finish making the fans forget completely about another weather-delayed day of hail, rain and mud.

"I would love The Irish Open to have a later date," McIlroy said. "It's something we're currently trying to see what we can do."

And even though he felt hard done by this year, closing with a 71 to finish tied 23rd on one under, he believes the event should be handed a mid-summer date.

Lowry roared: “We need to have it later. We're better off having The Irish Open in September.

“I'm not saying the golf course wasn’t good because the golf course was amazing this week and all credit to them for that. 

“But I do think we need to have it later in the year. Albeit we might come back in September and it might be awful, but generally the weather is a lot better later on in the year.

“They are trying to get one near the Open. That would be ideal, July, dates around the Open is perfect. I'm sure you'd get a few extra players playing, as well. Hopefully that would be the case.”

McIlroy was the obvious Irish star but Lowry was the next best and he’s feeling good about his game heading to Wentworth for this week’s BMW PGA.

He said: “I'm definitely not far away. I'm looking forward to next week. I'm looking forward to going over on Tuesday and getting going around Wentworth again. 

“It's kickstarted my season for the last two season so I’m looking forward to getting going.”

Asked to mark his game out of 10, he said: “My driving was ok this week. This is a tough driving course. With a new driver in the bag it’s hard to sometimes to commit to shots. Six or seven out of 10.

“My short game was good — 8 out of 10. But my putting, I’m not happy with it. The more you miss, the more you think about it and it gets frustrating.”

Former Irish amateur team mates Kevin Phelan and Gavin Moynihan justified their invitations as they finished tied for 36th on one over after rounds of 71 and 70 respectively.

Moynihan said: “I played well all week, maybe not my best on Saturday, but I played really nice again today. 

“I gave myself a lot of chances, missed a few chances coming in. It’s the way I have been playing all year; I just putted a bit better this week.

“There was no pressure having got the invite. It was a case of going out there, see how you get on, no expectations.”

Moynihan and Phelan now return to the Challenge Tour and the Waterford man is looking forward to building some momentum.

I would love The Irish Open to have a later date. It’s something we’re currently trying to see what we can do.
— Rory McIlroy

Phelan said: “It’s definitely good. I played a lot of really good golf this week and I’m really happy with here my game is at.”

Given the choice, player such as Phelan or last year’s champion Soren Kjeldsen would play in summer.

“In an ideal scenario, we would play the week before the Open,” Kjeldsen said. “I don’t think this is a bad date.  But it’s early here if you don’t play it on a links course. 

“So it is amazing the job they have done here but it is difficult. If you could play later, it would help. So I hope that with Dubai Duty Free on board and Rory taking part, hopefully it can grow and get a better date. Fingers crossed.”

Mount Juliet professional Phelan understands that having the event close to the BMW PGA can help the field but he feels it would be better later on the schedule.

He said: “We played Fota Island two years ago in July and it was probably the best week of the year on the European Tour in terms of weather so it would be nice to have it at that time of year.”

Ryder Cup skipper Darren Clarke had a rollercoaster week as he made 16 birdie san still ended up on two over in tied 43rd after a 72.

Paul Dunne (74) and Gary Hurley (78) tied for 60th in eight over with Paul McGinley tied 63rd after 75.

Graeme McDowell was 65th and last on 11 over after an 80 and while he refused to blame the weather, he’s also keen for a date change.

He groaned: “It's early in the year for golf courses here in Ireland, as we know. We've been very unlucky with the weather. 

“If this event could go a little later in the year, I'm sure Rory and The European Tour are working on that and it would be great to see. 

“It would be great to see some sunshine and dry golf courses and showcase Ireland for what it is. It's a great golfing country.”