Posts Tagged ‘DDF Irish Open’

Dermot McElroy determined to make the most of Irish Open invite

July 3, 2017

Dermot McElroy

Receiving an invite into the DDF Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation has been compared to finding the golden ticket in Roald Dahl’s famous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
As one of the European Tour’s Rolex Series events, this year’s tournament at Portstewart GC has a prize fund of $7,000,000 and a first prize touching €1,000,000.
That’s life-changing money and a golden opportunity for those players who have played their way into the field or happen to be lucky enough to receive an invitation.
In that regard, the finger of fate has pointed in the direction of the vastly experienced Michael Hoey, former BMW PGA Champion, Simon Khan, and three young professionals making their way in the game, Gavin Moynihan, Gary Hurley and Dermot McElroy
Ballymena’s McElroy only turned professional in July last year but he has hit the ground running in 2017.
The 24-year-old is riding high on the Europro Tour order of merit and has made the cut in his last two Challenge Tour appearances (Belgium & Scotland)
McElroy expressed his delight at receiving the ‘call-up’ to play in Portstewart after finishing tied for 33rd at the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge
“It was one of the nicest phone calls I have had in a long time,” said Dermot.

“My management company tried every avenue to get me in, so to get that invite was great news. I actually got the ferry over to Scotland and drove up to Aviemore for this week’s event because I thought I would be driving back down to Newcastle to play in a EuroPro tournament next week but now, my plans have changed a bit.”

As an amateur, Dermot played in the Irish Open on three occasions – in 2011, 2012 and 2014. The 2012 event at Royal Portrush remains etched in his memory.
He added; “That was totally different. The crowds, it was like an Open Championship. There was over 100,000 people at Portrush. It was bunged but it was a great experience for me.”
While Dermot is still finding his feet as a professional, his recent performances prove that he is becoming more comfortable playing in the spotlight and he’s excited about getting the chance to compete on a course he has played many times.
He added; “I’m getting used to dealing with cameras and the extra attention you get when you start playing well at an event. It doesn’t really bother me now.
“I also know Portstewart pretty well. I played it a couple of months ago and I noticed some of the new tees they have put in so I’m expecting it to be a good test.
“For me, the week will be about trying to perform as well as I can. Yes, it is a big stage, and there is a lot of money involved, but it is just golf. If I am playing well and am able to play my normal game I don’t see why I can’t do well.”

Kilpatrick to realise Irish Open ambition at Portstewart

June 28, 2017

Richard Kilpatrick

Banbridge professional, Richard Kilpatrick, will realise a long-held ambition when he plays in next week’s DDF Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Richard earned his place in the Irish Open field by finishing sixth in the PGA in Ireland 2016 Order of Merit.
He will be joined at Portstewart by Damien McGrane, David Higgins, Colm Moriarty, Neil O’Briain and Simon Thornton
“I can’t wait. The crowds, the buzz, the field that is being assembled. I can’t wait to tee it up, let it go and see what happens. It will be some test,” said the Banbridge GC assistant.
“I had the chance to play in the Irish Open as an amateur but it often clashed with the Brabazon Trophy and the GUI would send us over to England to compete in that instead.
“It means a lot to get to play in my first Irish Open up here (Northern Ireland) and at Portstewart as well. My aunt has a place in the town and I played the course a lot as an amateur.
“Even now, during the winter and when I can in the summer months I try to get up and play. The club professional, Neil Graham, has been very good in accommodating me.”
Richard turned professional in 2007 after winning the East of Ireland Championship and helping Ireland collect the European Team Championship title.
He spent the best part of eight years playing on the Challenge Tour, Alps Tour and EuroPro Tour before opting to follow the PGA route.
He has performed impressively on the PGA in Ireland circuit in recent seasons and has two wins to his name in 2017 at the PGA Irish Club Pro-Am and the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals.
And whilst he may be inexperienced in terms of playing at the highest level, he may have pulled off a masterstroke when is comes to hiring a caddy for the week.
Former college team mate and major winning LPGA caddy, David Jones, will lug Richard’s bag around Portstewart during tournament week.
Jones, who was formerly the PGA professional at Bushfoot GC, also happens to be a member at Portstewart GC and has cleared his schedule to caddy for Richard in the Irish Open.
“I’ve known Davy for years. I was starting my first year of college in America at the University of Toledo just as he was finishing his studies there. He was the groomsman at my wedding last December ” added Richard.

“The thing for me will be getting used to the atmosphere, to the grandstands and the corporate boxes. I’ve played a few rounds up there recently trying to familiarise myself with the place and how it will look during tournament week.”

That’s not something Damien McGrane will have to worry about. The Kells man has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt. McGrane topped the Order of Merit last year and also won the Irish PGA Championship. He is leading the way again in 2017 and if his competitive instincts take over he is capable of making an impact at Portstewart.
You can put Simon Thornton into the same bracket. A winner on the European Tour in 2013 (Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open), Simon is still returning to full fitness following surgery to his feet at the start of the year.
“I think I’ve only missed one [Irish Open] in recent years. It is a great event and you get used to playing in them but this will be a bit different now that’s it’s part of the Rolex Series,” said the 40-year-old.
“For us, as PGA guys, you have to try and blank all that out. You can’t really start thinking about the money that is on offer. You have to focus on those first two rounds and if you can make the cut great, then try and do as well as you can.”

A longer version of this article appeared in the July edition of Irish Golfer Magazine

McIlroy waits until weekend to make decision on BMW PGA Championship

May 18, 2017

Rory McIlroy won the BMW PGA Championship in 2014

Rory McIlroy will not make a decision about playing in next week’s BMW PGA Championship until early next week.
The world number two aggravated a rib injury at The Players Championship and had an MRI scan on Monday to check the extent of the damage.
“It’s just a matter of taking a bit of time to recover and rest,” said Rory speaking by phone at a DDF Irish Open preview event at Portstewart GC.
“Hopefully I will start hitting wedges by the weekend then I will be in a position to play Wentworth next week. I will only make that decision after I start hitting balls again at the weekend. Fingers crossed that I will be there but we have to wait and see at the minute.”
McIlroy confirmed that one of world golf’s most exciting young talents, John Rahm, will play in this year’s Irish Open.
The world number 12 will join defending champion McIlroy, Justin Rose and a host of the world’s top golfers at Portstewart, from July 6-9, in what will be the third of eight world class events as part of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series.
“He has already proved that he can go a long way in the game,” said Rory about the Spaniard.

“He is so young, very talented, hits the ball a mile, he is not afraid of anyone and believes in himself. He has all the attributes to be a major winner.”

Jon Rahm

Rahm has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 12 months, bursting onto the professional scene with six top 25 finishes in nine starts on the PGA Tour last season before his breakthrough win in the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
He became a European Tour member at the start of March after breaking into the world’s top 50, and finished tied third on his first start in the WGC-Mexico Championship before reaching the final of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where he took World Number One Dustin Johnson to last hole.
“I have some great memories as a kid watching the Spanish players competing in the big European Tour events on TV and it will be special to be able to now play in them myself,” said the 22-year-old.
“Obviously Seve, José Maria and Sergio have all won the Irish Open over the years, so it will be great to try and follow in their footsteps at Portstewart. Also, I’m really pleased to support Rory and everything he is trying to do for the event through his Foundation.
“The Rolex Series is a fantastic idea on the European Tour and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. I’m also looking forward to playing a different style of golf on the links of Portstewart which will be valuable preparation for The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale as well.”

Harrington – “I’m different, I’m special. I’m very special.”

April 30, 2017

Padraig Harrington


Padraig Harrington leans back in his chair. He has spent 15 minutes discussing Tiger Woods and whether he will ever return to anything like his best after his latest back surgery.

While refusing to rule out the prospect of Woods winning again, he concedes that any player reaching his 40s and with a 20-year career under his belt will find it hard to remain ‘mentally focused’.
And then one of the assembled scribes pipes up; “What about you, what’s your motivation?”
“I’m different. I’m special. I’m very special,” claims the 45-year-old with a smile who just happens to be recovering from neck surgery.
“I actually believe I’m in a great place, I do. I think I’m aware of the difficulties with that but you know, I always want to be out there on my own and try and do things different and being different. That’s what’s gotten me where I am.”

You can’t argue with that fact. Harrington has always walked his own path and he is genuinely convinced that he can be a factor in future majors even if that totally contradicts the argument he’s just outlined.
He added; “Yeah, I’m aware of the difficulty of staying motivated. This is my 20th year, and to be honest right now, you would have said that I followed the path exactly that I just described of all the other players.
“I started off, built myself up, won my big tournaments, played okay and then tailed off and have won a couple of events at the end of my 20 years like everybody else. And that’s why I kind of think Tiger is going to have a couple of wins.
“Golf is great. It always throws a win out. It always gives you something later on. It would be very easy to say with me winning the Honda (2015) and me winning in Portugal (2016) was that, here you go, here’s one at the end of your career, thanks very much.

“But I believe I’m different and I have to believe. Even if I’m not, I have to believe I’m different. I have to convince myself that there’s more in me and I really do feel very strongly about where my own game is at.”

A trapped nerve in his neck forced Harrington into surgery back in March and with his recovery going well, he is targeting a return to action in time for the Irish Open at Portstewart and the Open Championship at Birkdale, scene of his 2008 success.
“I’ve got another five weeks before I play. It’s about getting the right preparation, the right type of practice done,” added Padraig.
“I think my first event is going to be Wentworth [BMW PGA Championship] in five weeks’ time. There’s no doubt that all my practice when I do get going, will be more thinking about The Open Championship, plus obviously, the Irish Open is two weeks before that.”
And he continued, “Believe it or not I have never played Portstewart. Strangely enough, as an amateur, I never got there. For whatever reason, I missed out.
“I know the course at Portstewart is great, everyone has told me about it and the venue is fantastic, everyone will be into it, there will be a buzz about it and that really adds to a golf tournament when there is more to do around the event.
“We play a lot of events and we can be in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the sticks and no-one knows that a golf tournament is on. That won’t be the case up north. Everyone will be into it, there will be an excitement and a buzz which really helps the players.”
Padraig was speaking at an event hosted by the R&A at Dun Laoghaire GC