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I won't beg big name stars to play Irish Open: Rory McIlroy

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy has insisted he will not be begging big name American stars to tee up in future Irish Opens.

The Holywood ace promised to return the favour for the likes of Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia after they turned up at Royal County Down in May for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation.

Rory has committed to doing things for Fowler, Els and Garcia's charitable events in return but it appears that he is not prepared to continue doing favours.

While there were high hopes that the likes of Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson would be persuaded by McIlroy to turn up at the K Club in Kildare next May, Woods is already out of the equation having undergone back surgery last month

Instead, four-time major winner McIlroy hopes the massive prize fund - up from €2.5m to €4 million next year - will be enough to attract a stellar field.

Asked which American stars he was targeting, McIlroy said: "Really I'm not. I think the prize fund speaks for itself. I'm not going to do any IOU's this year like I did last year.

"It's a fantastic tournament in its own right. I mean, it's a bit of an awkward date on the calendar and obviously Royal County Down attracted a lot of guys because of the golf course that it is.

"That's the sort of thing that I would hope for in the future; that the golf courses and the increased prize fund obviously attract a few more players."

McIlroy's dream is to host the Irish Open at a links course every year as part of a three-week links swing ahead of the Scottish Open and The Open Championship.

But he accepts that the lack of links courses - Portmarnock and Royal Dublin are currently no-go venues for Irish government backers or the tour's sponsors because they are men only - makes that dream a challenge.

"I would love to always see it on a links course," McIlroy said. "We're working on it. That's a long way down the road but I'd like to see it go to that. The European Tour have been fantastic. They, along with myself, have made a huge commitment to The Irish Open for the next three years and hopefully they go well and we can go on from there."

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