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Mount Juliet gets go ahead for 2020 Irish Open with Rory McIlroy confirmed to return

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

By Brian Keogh

Mount Juliet is set to be unveiled as the host course for next year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, with Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry the star attractions.

The 7,264-yard Jack Nicklaus design in Thomastow will host the $7 million Rolex Series event from May 28-31.

It will be the fourth Irish Open to be staged at Mount Juliet following memorable wins for Nick Faldo (1993), Bernhard Langer (1994) and Sam Torrance (1995).

The venue went on to host the WGC American Express Championship in 2002 and 2004 with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els claiming the spoils in front of huge crowds.

While Paul McGinley took over as host from McIlroy at Lahinch in July, the European Tour has limited figurehead options this time around.

With McIlroy stepping away after four years, Darren Clarke busy with his seniors career and Pádraig Harrington focussed on the Ryder Cup, Graeme McDowell may be the best option.

Attracting a strong field will be a challenge for the European Tour with the event taking place two weeks after the PGA Championship and just a week before The Memorial on the PGA Tour.

But Spain's Jon Rahm has promised to defend his title and with world No2 McIlroy confirming his participation this week, the event is likely to carry healthy world rankings points.

The jury is out with regard to the change in date, given past Irish Open experiences in May and the vagaries of the Irish weather.

Forming part of the links swing no longer suits players like McIlroy or Lowry now that the summer schedule has become so condensed following the PGA Championship's move from August to May.

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