Masters key to Rory’s Irish Open plans - McGinley
Rory McIlroy at Augusta National

Rory McIlroy at Augusta National

Rory McIlroy's Masters bid could hold the key to his participation in next year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch.

Irish Open host Paul McGinley admits that while the Holywood star’s absence would be a blow to the $7 million Rolex Series event at the Co Clare links from July 4-7, his performance in the Masters could change everything.

"It's always a blow when Rory McIlroy doesn't play," McGinley said at a Shannon Chamber lunch for local business leaders at Dromoland Castle Hotel in Co Clare. 

"He's one of the superstars of the game. He's been front and central in the Irish Open for the past four or five years, he's a huge draw and we'd love to have him.

"But at the same time, I am not going to put any pressure on him. His focus at this moment in time, rightly so, is trying to win the Masters. 

"And whatever he has to do to win the Masters, he's right to get that in place. I think we will have a little more clarity after he plays the Masters.”

McIlroy has said will not tee it up in Europe until the summer and may not retain his European Tour playing rights as he concentrates on the PGA Tour and getting back to winning majors in 2019.

His priority is to complete the final leg of the career Grand Slam at Augusta National in April and McGinley understands that will have a major bearing on whether or not he makes the trip to Lahinch

The Dubliner (50) continues to work hard with Lahinch, the European Tour, Clare County Council and An Garda Siochana to make the 2019 Irish Open a massive success.

A traffic management and parking plan will be unveiled soon and McGinley is confident it will address local concerns.

"We can circumnavigate problems," McGinley told Clare FM. "There is no venue that's perfect and Lahinch, while it ticks a lot of boxes, is no different. 

"Yes, there are a few issues to circumnavigate but we have the experts to do that and I will be relying on them for advice. 

Paul McGinley with the goat statue at Lahinch. Picture: Brian Arthur

Paul McGinley with the goat statue at Lahinch. Picture: Brian Arthur

"We are working as a team here and everybody has been terrific behind the scenes. We are all really pulling to make this event as good as we can."

McGinley believes a massive crowd will be key to the event's success and reiterated his call for local businesses and golf lovers to get behind it.

He said: "It's up to the business community in the southwest and indeed all over Ireland to come and support this, take it and lift it and elevate it into something really, really special.  

"A great hurling match is a great hurling match but when it is a great hurling match with 80,000 watching it goes to another level.

"That's what I'm looking for; big crowds, big corporate engagement to make this a tournament we are all going to be proud of.”

As for McIlroy, who will begin his 2019 season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January, he’s undecided whether or not he will play the required four events outside the majors and World Golf Championships to retain membership of the European Tour.

“Look, everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I'm looking out for me,” McIlroy said earlier this month.

"At the same time, I didn't say that it was a definite. It's up in the air. I don't have to make a decision until May. We'll see how it goes."