European Tour

McIlroy enjoying hosting role

Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Newcastle - World number one Rory McIlroy says he will enjoy his role as tournament host but also wants to correct his form at this week's Irish Open at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland.

McIlroy heads one of the strongest fields ever assembled to contest Ireland's premier golfing event with the four-time Major winner among three players ranked inside the top ten in the world rankings.

Joining McIlroy is number seven Sergio Garcia of Spain, who captured a maiden European Tour event in winning the 1999 Irish Open, while American number nine Rickie Fowler, and winner of the recent Players Championship, was a member of the victorious 2007 USA Walker Cup team at Royal County Down.

It is the first time since the inaugural Irish Open in 1927 the tournament has been staged on the links gem bordering the township of Newcastle that more recently hosted three British Senior Open Championships from 2000 to 2002.

McIlroy is no stranger to the course having played it regularly, including a visit last Sunday in the company of his father, Gerry and coach Michael Bannon.

And it's McIlroy's extensive knowledge of the course that he hopes will turn around the disappointment of the past two years when he's missed the cut as well as failing to qualify for the weekend at last week's European PGA Championship.

"The Irish Open the last few years was becoming a bit of a I don't want to say a pain, but it didn't quite fit in the schedule or I just wasn't enjoying it as much as I could," he said.

"But then the European Tour approached us about getting involved, and we thought it was a perfect way to really kick start the Rory McIlroy Foundation and really start to help other people because of who I am.

"So honestly, what I want to get out of it this year is just to raise a lot of money for the foundation for the cancer fund, and ultimately if I play well, and if I do well in the tournament, then all the money that I earn is going to go towards that, as well.

"So I'm not really playing for myself this week. I'm playing for a lot of other people and it gives me an incentive to go out there and enjoy it and try to play well."

McIlroy, who made his Irish Open debut in 2005 as a then 16-year old amateur, will play the opening two rounds in the company of Fowler and double Major winning Martin Kaymer of Germany.

Fowler and McIlroy have been friendly rivals for several years and also have neighboring homes in Florida.

"It wasn't that hard a pitch to make to Rickie to play this week as I knew what a fan he was of the golf course," said McIlroy.

"We played against each other at the Walker Cup here and Rickie is a great guy. You see all the other stuff he does, as well. It looks like it's very hard for him to say no.

"And I wanted Rickie to play here just because of the history that we had here. It's great to have him here. I was very pleased that Rickie and Sergio were in the playoff at The Players a couple weeks ago. It creates more buzz about this tournament, and it was great to see him win.

"The two previous tournaments Rickie had won as a professional before the Players, I finished runner-up in both of them. He beat me in play-off at Quail Hollow and he beat me by six or seven in Korea a couple years ago.

loading... Live
Bournemouth 0
Leicester City 0
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
46% - 3944 votes
11% - 962 votes
18% - 1533 votes
2% - 173 votes
1% - 73 votes
2% - 178 votes
5% - 433 votes
8% - 670 votes
3% - 280 votes
Water sports
1% - 65 votes
American sports
1% - 66 votes
3% - 224 votes