McIlroy warning for USGA  as Portmarnock Links' Irish Open plans put on hold
Rory McIlroy at Bethpage. Picture: USGA

Rory McIlroy at Bethpage. Picture: USGA

Rory McIlroy believes the USGA could face a serious backlash from players if they fail to "redeem themselves" at Pebble Beach next month.

McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were among the heavyweights who considered a boycott of the US Open following recent controversies, according to a recent report in Golf Digest.

And the Co Down man admitted ahead of The Memorial Tournament in Ohio yesterday that the USGA could face serious player unrest if they fail to get things right this year following a series of rules and course set-up controversies in recent years.

"They are trying to do as good a job as they can but even they would admit they have made a couple of mistakes over the past few years," McIlroy said.

"But everyone does and I think we should give them the chance to redeem themselves. And if they can't redeem themselves at Pebble Beach then there could be a problem!"

The world number four believes the USGA has moved too far away from its traditional set-up in recent seasons.

"In my head, growing up watching US Opens, my perception was of tight fairways, thick rough and a premium on accuracy and precision," McIlroy said. 

"I think some of the golf courses we have played and some of the set0-ups have gone away from that. As I have said, we play one Open Championship a year, we don't need to play two. 

"I think it has just lost its identity a little bit in terms of what it is and I'd like to see it go back to that because it worked. It really worked."

The Holywood star (30) is hoping to spoil the party for Tiger Woods at Muirfield Village this week and stop the Masters champion matching Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins in the event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

"It's more impressive than his major tally," said McIlroy, who could become only the second player after Woods to win The Players and the Memorial in the same season. 

"Eighty-two wins, even if you are on tour for 20 years, that's four a year, every year. It's very, very impressive. 

"If he does surpass that record of Snead's, knowing how difficult it is to win in this day and age or any day and age, I think it's more impressive than the 15 (majors)." 


McIlroy won't be in Lahinch for July's Dubai Duty Fee Irish Open, where Pau McGinley will play host.

But with Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links going on the market earlier this week with a guide price of €50 million, it appears that plans to have Pádraig Harrington host the Irish Open at the Dublin links next year have also be shelved or put on hold until a buyer is found,.

The European Tour was ready to bring the event to a venue that's received a €11 million facelift from owners Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate and Ryder Cup skipper Harrington was understood to be keen to take host in the capital.

But the uncertainty over the sale and the eventual arrival of new owners has forced the tour to consider other options.

"We are very much undecided about where we are going next year," said Simon Alliss, Championship Director for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"As you know, we visited Portmarnock Links as well as other venues like Co Sligo last year before opting for Lahinch. 

"But sometimes you get to a point when you start looking deeper into something that plans change.

"We haven't decided on a host for 2020 yet but it is more than likely that it will be in the north but the options we've got there are a little limited at the minute. It depends on what venue is most suitable for the host."

A move north to a venue such as Portstewart could reactivate plans to have Darren Clarke host and Alliss foresees no plans to move the Irish Open to September or to move away from links terrain for now.

"We are committed to the links strategy and looking to carry on with that until further notice," he said.

Meanwhile, as Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire tee it up in the US Women's Open the Country Club of Charleston, Gavin Moynihan and Michael Hoey are in action in the € 1 million Belgian Knockout at Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp.

On the Staysure Tour, Philip Walton and Mark McNulty will be trying to deny American Clark Dennis a hattrick of wins in the Senior Italian Open at Villaverde Resort in Italy’s northeast.