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Dubay Duty Free IRISH OPEN SET TO SOAR IN 2016

Rory power gives The K Club biggest Dubai Duty Free Irish Open ever

Rory McIlroy is clearly the host with the most after his decision to support the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for another three years helped boost the prize fund by 60 percent to €4 million — the biggest in the event’s history.

In what was the worst kept secret in Irish golf, the European Tour confirmed The K Club as the host venue from May 19-22 next year, sandwiching the tournament between The Players at TPC Sawgrass and its own flagship event, the BMW PGA at Wentworth.

McIlroy’s decision to host on behalf of his charitable foundation for another three years was enough to persuade Dubai Duty Free to also extended its deal until 2018 and also to increase its investment. 

The choice of The K Club to stage the event for the first time makes sense as it’s an excellent venue for corporate business and 2016 coincides with owner, Dr Michael Smurfit’s 80th birthday as well as the 10th anniversary of the 2006 Ryder Cup and the 25th anniversary of the resort’s opening,

Officially, the 2017 Irish Open will still take place at the Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh, though there is some uncertainty in industry circles that this will now go ahead following the sale of the resort to a US buyer since it was awarded the tournament last year.

With the Portstewart Golf Club confirming last week that they are keen to host the event on their famous Strand links, and with former Irish Open venues such as Adare Manor and Mount Juliet undergoing facelifts, a future strategy for the event appears to be taking shape.

Following this year’s 100,000 sell out at Royal County Down, the decision by Dubai Duty Free to remain in partnership with Mcilroy was a no-brainer, leading to an increase in the prize fund from €2.5m to €4m.

The previous biggest Irish Open prize fund was €3m at Killarney in 2010 but at €4m, it is now one of the biggest events on the schedule behind the majors, the World Golf Championships, the BMW PGA, the Scottish Open, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the four Final Series events.

In what could be a significant move when it comes to getting a better date in the schedule, the prize money increase means the Irish Open is now bigger than the French Open, which occupies a prime date, two weeks before The Open Championship. 



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