Home hopes will run high at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation after former champions Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry confirmed they will join host and defending champion Rory McIlroy at Portstewart Golf Club from July 6-9.
The past fortnight has been a significant one for both Harrington and Lowry, albeit for very different reasons.
Harrington took the decision to undergo surgery on a troublesome neck injury yesterday in order to maximise his chances of success in an exciting summer schedule – which will include his home championship at Portstewart Golf Club and the return of The Open Championship to Royal Birkdale, where he successfully defended the Claret Jug in 2008.
Lowry, meanwhile, recently experienced the unbridled joy of becoming a father for the first time after his wife, Wendy, gave birth to a baby girl, Iris.
Both players will be hoping those major developments away from the golf course will provide the springboard for big things to come when the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the third Rolex Series event of the season, returns to Northern Irish shores and another links venue.
With the 18th grandstand tickets for Sunday recently selling out, 300 seats were added last week to cope with demand, and all tournament tickets including season passes and day tickets can be purchased at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.
Thanks to the recent successes of defending champion McIlroy, Lowry (2009) and Harrington (2007), the past ten years of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open have been the most fruitful for home champions in the long history of the event – which dates back to 1927.
Both players have experienced memorable victories on links courses - Lowry famously lifting the Irish Open trophy as an amateur in 2009, kick-starting his career, while two of Harrington’s Major titles came at The Open Championship – so the two are relishing a return to the Northern Irish coast for their home open.
“The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is always one of the first events I put on my schedule every year and I am really looking forward to playing another classic links golf course in Portstewart in July,” said three-time Major winner Harrington.
“After taking medical advice I have been advised to have surgery on a trapped nerve which is likely to keep me out for 8 to 10 weeks, but it should allow me to be fit for the busy stretch in the summer, with the Irish Open and The Open the obvious focal points of that run.
“Winning the Irish Open will always be up there with the Major Championship victories as one of the biggest moments of my career and with the event now part of the Rolex Series, it should be a great tournament.”
Lowry said: “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is always such a special occasion with phenomenal crowds so I know it will be another incredible week at Portstewart in July. Having won at Baltray, I love playing the Irish Open on links courses.
“The tournament has such a good date two weeks before the Open, and with the event now part of the Rolex Series, we will definitely have a world-class field.
“Obviously my life has changed recently with the arrival of Iris, and hopefully the happiness she brings off the course will help me to play better golf and make a really good run of it over the next few months because I have some of my favourite tournaments of the year to look forward to.”
Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com, and begin at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.
An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just £100 (a saving of £90 over the course of the five days).
Concessions are available for customers aged over 60 and between 16 and 21, while children up to 16 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.
To get a full seated view of all of the drama at the 18th green, grandstand tickets cost an additional £11.50 for Thursday and Friday, £16.50 for Saturday and £21.50 for Sunday.
Official Hospitality packages are also available on the ticketing page, or alternatively contact the European Tour’s dedicated Hospitality Sales Team, who will be happy to answer any queries and discuss the various hospitality options, on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 1344 840681.