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‘I haven’t made my decision’ – Rory McIlroy may decide to miss Irish Open in 2022

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Rory McIlroy isn't sure whether he will compete at the 2022 Irish Open. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Rory McIlroy isn't sure whether he will compete at the 2022 Irish Open. Image credit: Sportsfile.

SPORTSFILE

Rory McIlroy isn't sure whether he will compete at the 2022 Irish Open. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Rory McIlroy has indicated he might skip this year's Irish Open at Mount Juliet because of his busy PGA Tour schedule this summer.

The World No.8, who will be bidding for his third win in the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club this week, faces a hectic month of June with the Memorial Tournament, the RBC Canadian Open, the US Open at Brookline and the Travelers Championship all taking place before the Irish Open in Co Kilkenny from June 30 to July 1.

The Holywood star is expected to make the trip to Adare Manor for the JP McManus Pro-Am the Monday and Tuesday after the Irish Open, along with a host of PGA Tour stars who will then head to the Genesis Scottish Open and the following week's 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.

"I'd love to see it co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR in the future," McIlroy said of the Irish Open, which will see its purses almost double to $6 million this year. "I think that would be obviously a wonderful thing for the event.

"I haven't made my decision yet (on playing at Mount Juliet). I know I'm playing a lot of golf in the States around that time of year, Memorial, Canada, US Open, Travelers.

"Yeah, we'll see, and I honestly haven't made that decision yet. But whenever I do, I'll certainly let you know.”

McIlroy did not play well at Mount Juliet last year, finishing tied 59th on two-under par, 17 strokes behind Australia’s Lucas Herbert.

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Tiger Woods was amongst the players to indicate on its original 2020 date that he would play the JP McManus Pro-Am.

It was postponed that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and postponed again last year until July 4-5 this year.

However, McIlroy is unsure if Woods will be joining him, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, and Justin Rose in Limerick this year as he recovers from multiple fractures in his right leg sustained in a car crash he suffered in February last year.

"Maybe," he said. "I'd say if he was planning to play The Open Championship, then I would expect to see him at Adare. But if he's not planning on playing at St Andrews, then I don't think he could go.

"But again, I think for him that's a long way away, and that's a decision he'll need to make in the future as well."

McIlroy first played in the Dubai Desert Classic as a 16-year old in 2006 and while he missed the cut that year after carding a pair of 72s, he borrowed a camera and a press credential and went out to follow Tiger Woods inside the ropes and saw one of the best shots he has ever seen.

"I had a better view than most being able to get inside the ropes and have a media credential and Tiger to this day, hit a five-iron out of the right rough on 10 and landed on the green and stopped it on the green and to this day it was one of the best golf shots I've ever seen," he said today. "Just sticks out in my mind and I was right there for it."

Woods beat Ernie Els in Dubai in a playoff in 2006, but when McIlroy returned in 2007, he finished tied 52nd to become World Amateur No.1 and has never finished outside the top 10 since winning his maiden professional title in 2009, before winning again in 2015.

"I've got good memories here," said McIlroy, who was second to Haotong Li in his last appearance in the event in 2009. "Have a lot of close friends from this region. It's a very comfortable place for me and it's nice to be back. I mean, this was one of the first events I played on The European Tour back in 2006, I think, as a 16-year-old.

"The course hasn't changed that much over the years. They put a couple of new tee boxes here and there. The greens seem to get progressively smaller as we keep coming back, so to see the new green complexes is nice to get them that can to their original shapes.

"It's a great golf course. It's a fun golf course to play. Gives you plenty of opportunities to make birdies.

"You know the scoring is always going to be pretty good. You have the three par 5s on the back nine. You have a couple of reachable fours, and it's just a fun golf course to play. I think everyone enjoys coming back here.

"The course, as the trees grow up, everything got claustrophobic over the years and they have sort of tried to clear that out again. It definitely doesn't feel as constricting as it used to and it certainly doesn't feel as constricting as even like last week where you had a lot of trouble on either side of fairways and water.

"There's some opportunities where you can just step up and give it a rip which is nice."

McIlroy struggled in the wind for the first two rounds of last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, but after making the cut on the mark, he rallied at the weekend, getting to within two shots of the lead on Sunday before dropping three strokes in his last five holes to finish tied 12th.

"It was a good weekend last weekend, a disappointing finish on Sunday, but I felt some of the golf I played over the weekend was very encouraging," he said of his performance at Yas Links. "I guess just more of the same, maybe just try to refine a few things here and there.

"But it's early in the year, and all I can ask for is getting myself into contention, trying to hit shots under pressure when it matters and hopefully I get another chance to do that this week."

McIlroy is joined in Dubai this week by Shane Lowry, Pádraig Harrington and Jonathan Caldwell and tees it up for the first two days with World No.2 Collin Morikawa and Ryder Cup teammate Bernd Wiesberger of Austria (4am Irish time tomorrow).


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