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McIlroy joined by Clarke and McDowell in bid for home glory at the Irish Open

 

By Robert Jones

Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell will add their Major clout to the Northern Ireland contingent at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open when they join defending champion and tournament host Rory McIlroy at Portstewart Golf Club from July 6 to 9.

Both players will bring significant local knowledge to the historic tournament, which will be the third event of the European Tour's new Rolex Series - each with a minimum prize fund of $7million.

McDowell, the 2010 US Open Champion, grew up in nearby Portrush while Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion and last year's Ryder Cup captain, now lives there.

Clarke and McDowell - along with fellow Major Champions McIlroy and Padraig Harrington as well as former Irish Open Champion Shane Lowry - will be hoping to continue what has been the most successful period of home dominance in the history of the event.

With Harrington having lifted the trophy in 2007, Lowry triumphing as an amateur in 2009 and McIlroy delighting the crowds with victory last year, Clarke and McDowell are the only players among that quintet yet to experience glory at their home open.

McDowell commented: "The Irish Open is always a special week for me but this year it will be even more so, returning once again to the area where I grew up.

"Winning the Irish Open has always been something I've dreamed of doing."

Clarke said: "I am always so proud when the Irish Open comes to Northern Ireland and especially to an area which is so close to my heart."

Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com

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