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Rory would have been big hit but this week will be a blast: McGinley

 

Missing out: Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy
Missing out: Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy's absence is "a blow", but Paul McGinley believes the sell-out crowds expected in Lahinch this weekend vindicate his belief that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is bigger than any one player.

The decision of the World No.3 to sit out the Irish Open, and play the Scottish Open instead as he prepares for The Open at Royal Portrush, was an early reverse for the tournament host.

But, with 12 of the world's top 50 in action at Lahinch and huge crowds expected, McGinley is not worried about this week or the event's future.

"Well, yes. Rory's obviously a huge body blow," McGinley said.

"That was a huge challenge, particularly so early after the announcement that we were coming here, that he wasn't playing.

"But I think we've recovered from that strongly and the fact we've sell-out crowds is a validation of that, that the Irish Open will always be bigger than any one player.

"We've had great champions here in this Open over the years - Nick Faldo, Seve, Langer, Olazabal, all the greats, they've all won it. Rory's won it.

"The game is always bigger than any one player, and I think the sell-out crowds is an indication that we haven't been too affected by Rory not playing."

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