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Rory McIlroy predicts ‘bigger’ future for Irish Open after $6m PGA Tour boost

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Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on a medal at the Olympic but is back in action this week. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on a medal at the Olympic but is back in action this week. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on a medal at the Olympic but is back in action this week. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Rory McIlroy sees the Irish Open’s new $6m (£4.3m) purse as the first step on the road to bigger things.

The new strategic partnership between the European Tour and the PGA Tour has resulted in the Scottish Open becoming a FedEx Cup event and the Barbasol and Barracuda Championships opening up to European players.

“I think this is one of the benefits of the strategic partnership between the PGA Tour and the European Tour,” McIlroy said ahead of the WGC FedEx St Jude Championship in Memphis, where he tees off his opening round today alongside Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka at 3.59pm.

“Obviously the Scottish Open being a FedExCup event next year is huge. The Irish Open getting a little burst of money in the prize fund and that going up to $6 million (€5m), it’s all headed in the right direction.

“I think it’s wonderful for everyone involved. I’ve always said we’re all in this thing together and we need to be pulling in the same direction and this is the start of it, which is great.”

While the Irish Open is unlikely to be a Rolex Series event in 2022, McIlroy sees bigger things ahead.

“I think it’s the start of something a little, I don’t know what the word is, bigger or more substantial,” he said. “But hopefully one day you could maybe see the Irish Open becoming similar to what the Scottish Open has for next year.”

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Ranked 25th in the FedEx Cup with Lowry 70th, the Holywood star knows he needs to loosen up after seeing the benefits of a relaxed approach in Tokyo.

“I think the Olympics was a big week for me because I played with more freedom there and that obviously panned out well,” he said. “I played my best tournament I’ve played since the US Open, which was good. So the focus for me over these next few weeks is play with as much freedom as possible.

“I know if I do that, then I’ll be able to play some of my best golf or at least give myself the chance to play my best golf. More freedom, less thought, more fun, try to have a little more fun with it.”

Pádraig Harrington plays the modified stableford Barracuda Championship at Old Greenwood in California as Jonathan Caldwell, Cormac Sharvin, Gavin Moynihan, Niall Kearney, Tom McKibbin and Paul Dunne tee it up in the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews as John Murphy, Conor O’Rourke, Paul McBride, Robin Dawson, Jonathan Yates, David Carey and James Sugrue go in the Finnish Challenge.

Hero Open Sky Sports Golf (12:30)
WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Sky Sports Golf (17:30)
Aramco Team Series, Sky Sports Golf (11:00)


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