IRELAND’S FLAGSHIP GOLF tournament received a significant boost this afternoon with the news that one of its major attractions has committed to playing in 2012.
Record crowds flocked to this summer’s Irish Open in Killarney to see a star-studded field which included the current world number two Rory McIlroy.
But with next year’s tournament set to move forward to the last weekend in June to avoid a clash with the Olympics, there were fears that McIlroy might travel instead to the AT&T National at Congressional, scene of his US Open victory.
After finalising his schedule for the coming 12 months, McIlroy’s new agents at Horizon Sports revealed this afternoon that the 22-year-old will indeed return to Ireland.
Rory “is looking forward to competing in the 2012 Irish Open,” Horizon confirmed via Twitter. “The tournament is confirmed as an integral part of his 2012 schedule.”
It is hoped that McIlroy’s presence will encourage more of golf’s big names stars to make the trip and, in turn, entice a title sponsor for the tournament.
Fáilte Ireland stepped in as temporary sponsor last season after 2010 partners 3 Ireland opted not to continue their association.
Despite fears of cancellation, the tournament’s future looks to have been guaranteed for at least one more year although no venue or date for 2012 has been officially confirmed yet.
Before making his decision, McIlroy spoke out about his dilemma last week.
“It’s a tough one and I know I need to decide what I am going to do because the people in Ireland want to see me play in the Irish Open and if I don’t play I know there will be a lot of comments.
But I am very conscious the Irish Open needs home grown support. It needs support to guarantee the future but then Congressional will always have happy memories for me.