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Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2015

Pre event magazine from your Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy has stepped up to the plate for Northern Ireland and now our wee country is set to do him proud in return with our support for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by his Rory foundation.

The May 28-31 event promises to be sensational, a showcase to the world of all that is good about Northern Ireland in general and our golfing pedigree in particular.

Royal County Down, at Newcastle, already renowned throughout the world for its spectacular setting and exacting challenges will provide a fitting stage for the most awe-inspiring line-up of golfing greatness assembled here in the modern era.

Many willing hands will have played a part in bringing them to the first tee next Thursday, where the mountains of Mourne sweep majestically down to the sea.

But the single-most driving force in shaping an event dazzlingly capturing the public imagination has been Rory McIlroy who has done much more than lend his name.

Our World Number 1 did not stop at simply endorsing the famous old tournament through his Foundation which raises funds for children's charities around the world including, just a few miles from Royal County Down, the NI Cancer Fund for Children's short break centre at Daisy Lodge on the edge of Tollymore Forest Park.

He then set about using his connections to recruit a world class field of stellar names, including Ricky Fowler, Miguel Angel Jiminez, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Luke McDonald. Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, of course, join him in a trinity of Northern Ireland major winners.

His efforts were also instrumental in attracting the headline sponsor, Dubai Duty Free, on board.

The subsequent clamour to be associated with a surefire success story in the making has been translated into tangible partnership support from local business and a tidal wave of ticket sales.

Rory has done his bit once again demonstrating his commitment to his homeland and to the event. Children's charities, not least Daisy Lodge, will benefit.

Here is a lad who consistently does his sport, his country, his family and, above all, himself proud.

Now it's our turn to show our appreciation and we can demonstrate that in the form of packed galleries, providing a warm Northern Ireland welcome and vociferous support for our host and his distinguished guests, all around historic Royal County Down.

And we can do so, safe in the knowledge that whoever emerges victorious on the 18th green next Sunday, Northern Ireland, its golf and people will be the biggest winners.

Jim Gracey

Group Sports Editor


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