Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in Irish Open boost
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are set to tee it up in next summer's Irish Open after the European Tour rubber-stamped a date change for the event which makes it easier for the Ulster duo to play in their home event.
A proposal to move the Irish Open forward seven days on the schedule – to the week immediately after the US Open at Pinehurst – was passed at a meeting of Europe's Tournament Players Committee in Vilamoura.
The meeting also discussed the introduction of a new rule requiring the Tour's top players to commit to playing in the primary event in their home country and one other event on European soil.
McIlroy has long stated his commitment to the Irish Open, but moving it into the June 19-22 slot on the rota falls nicely into the Holywood star's plans, including his – and McDowell's – commitment to play in next year's Scottish Open a fortnight later on the classic links at Royal Aberdeen ahead of the Open at Royal Liverpool.
The venue for next year's Irish showpiece, which now takes place in the same week as the British Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush, has yet to be discussed by the Tour, though Carton House is the favourite.
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, a member of the 15-man Tournament Players Committee, welcomed European efforts to persuade their big-name players, the vast majority of whom are full members of America's PGA Tour, to make time for home events.
"What would the Irish Open be without Rory McIlroy?" the Dubliner asked.
"It is a success every year because Rory plays."