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Rory McIlroy backs Irish Open

By Karl MacGinty

Rory McIlroy has delivered an early Christmas present to the organisers of next summer’s Irish Open.

The Holywood star confirmed he will play in the June 28-July 1 Irish Open rather than return to Congressional, scene of his US Open victory this year, for the PGA Tour's AT&T National.

His presence will be a real boost and box office hit for a recession-hit event he also helped rescue this year in the absence of a headline sponsor.

Killarney has hosted the Irish Open over the last two years but a decision has yet to be made on next year’s venue. With McIlroy confirmed, there will now be a rush to stage the event after fears his US commitments next season might rule him out.

“There has been a lot of speculation on whether or not I will play the Irish Open next year, so I am happy to announce that I will definitely play the tournament,” the 22-year-old said in a European Tour statement.

“For me the Irish Open has always been, and will continue to be, one of the most important events on the global golf calendar.

“It's our national open and it's obviously a title that I would love to win at some stage in my career.

“With Irish golf on such a high in recent years, it is important that we put on a good show not only for the home fans, but also for the global golf audience who will be watching the event on TV.

“A lot has been made of me joining the PGA Tour again next year, but in reality it's not a drastic change to the schedule I have played in recent seasons.

Killarney in the summer was, of course, the scene of a famous Irish Open Twitter row between Rory and BBC commentator Jay Townsend as Rory rapped back at the former golfer’s criticism of his caddie JP Fitzgerald.

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