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Rory McIlroy not ruling out appearance from Tiger Woods at Irish Open in Portstewart

Rory McIlroy has said he would not rule out an appearance from Tiger Woods at the Irish Open in Portstewart next year.

The Holywood golfer said that Woods appeared happier than he had seen him in several years.

The World Number 2 was speaking at the Excellence in Sport Awards in aid of the Irish Youth Foundation in Dublin on Monday.

He commented on Woods' return after 15 months.

McIlroy told the Irish Examiner: "The excitement levels are huge any time he tees it up, whenever Tiger plays, I think he exceeded everyone’s expectations, not sure if he exceeded his own, but he definitely made some great swings.

"He looked comfortable, he looked happy which I thought was the most interesting thing. He looked happy to be out there which we probably haven’t seen in a while.

“Anytime we saw him on a golf course in the last couple of years he had the furrowed brow and he has been so concentrated.

“But he looked happy so obviously that tells you he has been away and he has come back out happy and he is in a better place.”

A spokesman for McIlroy said they would love to see Woods play at the 2017 Irish Open.

“We’d love Tiger to play but we haven’t reached out in any capacity.

“A good number of players will be asked by the Rory Foundation — Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day will all be asked. If not next year, hopefully they will commit to one of the years.

“With Tiger, the request would have to come from Rory and he did text Tiger last year. Honestly, less effort will have to be made next year to get a good field because of the date but it will be Rory’s call.”

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