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Galgorm set to host Irish Open in September as US-based stars prepare to jet in

 

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Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

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Graeme McDowell

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open looks set to be held in Ballymena from September 24-27.

Originally scheduled for Mount Juliet in May, the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and now appears likely to be played at Galgorm Castle Spa & Golf Resort.

While efforts were made to take the event to Co Kilkenny and a move to the Old Head of Kinsale was briefly considered, the Irish Government's Covid-19 restrictions have forced the European Tour to look north according to multiple sources.

With as many as 40 European Tour stars set to play in the US Open at Winged Foot from September 17-20, the requirement by the Irish government that all visitors from the US restrict their movements for 14 days would have decimated the field.

By heading to Northern Ireland, players such as Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell would be able to travel directly to a UK airport and tee it up in one of the European Tour's flagship events.

Rory McIlroy appears certain to miss a trip home, having 10 days ago said that he is reluctant to take risks with Covid-19.

"I don't know if I want to travel, I don't know if I want to be exposed to more things and more people," he said.

While the move has yet to be confirmed by the European Tour, it would be a double-whammy for Galgorm Castle, which is to stage the Challenge Tour's £160,000 Northern Ireland Open supported by The R&A from September 3-6.

Belfast Telegraph