by Ronan MacNamara
Rory McIlroy. By Golffile
Rory McIlroy is yet to commit to this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Mount Juliet.
McIlroy hasn’t decided on whether he will tee it up this July, sighting a scheduling issue as his reason. His absence would be a blow for the tournament which already sits in an awkward spot on the DP World Tour schedule, two weeks before the Open and the week before the Scottish Open.
The world number 8 also admitted he would like to see the event co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour after it was announced the Scottish Open would become part of the PGA Tour.
“I'd love to see it co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR in the future,” said the 2016 winner. “I think that would be obviously a wonderful thing for the event. I haven't made my decision yet. I know I'm playing a lot of golf in the States around that time of year, Memorial, Canada, U.S. Open, Travelers.
“Yeah, we'll see, and I honestly haven't made that decision yet. But whenever I do, I'll certainly let you know.”
The Holywood native saved the Irish Open when he sponsored it from 2015 to 2018 and drew widespread criticism for missing the Lahinch edition in 2019 as it didn’t suit his schedule in preparation for the Open Championship at Portrush where he missed the cut.
Shane Lowry has previously hit out at the Irish Open’s place on the schedule and the lack of a links golf course this year won’t do much to attract a stellar field with the Open Championship a fortnight after.
McIlroy is teeing it up in the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic this week, the site of his maiden DP World Tour victory in 2009.
“A lot of good memories here. Played as an amateur, got to world No. 1 amateur after playing pretty well in 2007. I lived in Dubai for four years as well. I've got good memories here. Have a lot of close friends from this region. It's a very comfortable place for me and it's nice to be back.
“I mean, this was one of the first events I played on The European Tour back in 2006, I think as a 16-year-old.”
After an encouraging weekend at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship where he shot rounds of 67 and 69, the four-time major champion is hoping he can carry that momentum into this week as he hunts a maiden Rolex Series title.
“It was a good weekend last weekend, a disappointing finish on Sunday but I felt some of the golf I played over the weekend was very encouraging. I guess just more of the same, maybe just try to refine a few things here and there.
“But it's early in the year, and all I can ask for is getting myself into contention, trying to hit shots under pressure when it matters and hopefully I get another chance to do that this week.”
McIlroy tees off on Thursday alongside Collin Morikawa and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.