Open champion Shane Lowry has given the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open a massive boost by committing to play the tournament at Galgorm Castle later this month.
The European Tour event was postponed from May at Mount Juliet due to the Covid-19 pandemic and last month it was announced the tournament would be staged on Northern Irish soil on September 24-27 given the ongoing public health restrictions south of the border. The date, though, put it in the week immediately following the rearranged US Open at Winged Foot in New York, making it logistically challenging for the world’s best golfers to play both events on different sides of the Atlantic in back-to-back weeks.
Lowry’s commitment, then, is a huge filip for the Irish Open, and his first competitive appearance on the island of Ireland since he lifted the Claret Jug to become a major champion at Royal Portrush in July 2019.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back home to play the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open,” Lowry said in a statement issued by the European Tour. “As a proud Irishman, this event means a lot to me and is always one of the most important tournaments on my schedule each year.
“While it’s been extremely challenging for all players to plan their global tournament schedules this season, I wanted to do everything possible to get home to play the Irish Open and I’m delighted that I’ve been able to commit to this year’s tournament given the circumstances. Obviously I was really looking forward to playing in front of our home fans as the Open Champion this year, which would have been really special, but sadly it’s not to be.
“I’m sure everyone will be supporting from home and watching the event on TV, so hopefully I can put in a good performance at Galgorm Castle and give the Irish fans something to shout about. I’ve been fortunate enough to win the Irish Open already and I would dearly love to win it again.”
Fellow Irish pro Leona Maguire, meanwhile, is looking forward to her second major of the year at this week’s ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage in California, the LPGA Tour rookie lifted by outsider Sophia Popov’s shock AIG Women’s Open victory last month at Royal Troon. “I think it spoke to the depth of golf in general on the women’s side and on the men’s side too. That’s the beauty of golf, on any given week, if anybody’s on form they can win and you don’t typically see that in any other sport. You don’t see that in athletics, you don’t see it in rugby, in any other sport really to that extent.
Speaking as a 20×20 and KPMG ambassador at the launch of the fifth and final chapter of the 20×20 campaign – ‘The Future for Women in Sport: Choose What’s Next’, Maguire said: “Major championships are usually a little different in that they require a little bit more strategy but I suppose the British Open is a bit more different again in that there’s generally a lot more weather conditions and stuff like that to contend with that separates the field.
“So yes, it gives you confidence, knowing that you just never know when it’s going to click or when it’s going to be your week and you just have to be there to snatch that opportunity when it comes along like it did for Sophia in Troon a couple of weeks ago.”