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Irish Open set for May switch as Rory McIlroy faces another calendar headache

Tough choice: Rory McIlroy
Tough choice: Rory McIlroy

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy faces another Dubai Duty Free Irish Open dilemma next year as the Rolex Series event moves from early July to May 28-31 - just three weeks before the US Open.

While the date change has not yet been made public, it's understood Europe's marquee players have been made aware of the move, which is designed to avoid forcing them to choose between Ireland and the clashing WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis from July 2-5.

Mount Juliet has expressed interest in hosting the Irish Open for the first time since 1995, but the European Tour has yet to decide on the venue or announce who will be the host.

With the 2020 Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup squeezing the schedule tighter, the date change was forced when the World Golf Championship was moved from the week after The Open to the early July date occupied by the Irish Open for the past three years.

But it remains to be seen if world number two McIlroy, who opted to skip this year's Irish Open in Lahinch, will be able to make the trip home next May.

With the Memorial, the Canadian Open, the US Open and the Travelers Championship occupying the next four weeks after the Irish Open date, something will have to give.

He is keen to defend the RBC Canadian Open the week before the US Open at Winged Foot and already committed to playing the Travelers Championship.

"I'll definitely be back," McIlroy said after closing with a 61 to win in Canada this year. "Obviously looking ahead and where the date is in the schedule, I really want to play stretches of golf around the majors.

"I think I'm already looking forward to coming back and defending the title."

He skipped the Irish Open this year so he could play seven events in eight weeks.

After playing the Scottish Open, The Open and the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, he took a week off and teed it up four weeks in-a-row by playing the three FedEx Cup playoffs and the Omega European Masters.

He didn't play the Travelers Championship this year but last week announced he'd be back next term. "I really missed playing at TPC River Highlands this year, so I'm looking forward to coming back in 2020," McIlroy said in a statement.

"The Travelers Championship is one of the best events on the PGA Tour, with a tremendous atmosphere, great fans, an awesome practice facility and now a new clubhouse that I can't wait to see."

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