Irish Open set for new date as finale to Ryder Cup qualifying

Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Seamus Power look set for a massive end-of-summer Ryder Cup push with the Horizon Irish Open set for a date change next year.

hile the move is not yet official, sources close to both the DP World Tour and sponsors Horizon Therapeutics have confirmed the intention to move the event from the early July slot it’s occupied for five of the last six years since 2017 to a late summer date, with August 31 to September 3 looking a strong favourite.

That would make it the final counting event for the 2023 Ryder Cup, as it’s already confirmed the European Ryder Cup qualifying campaign will conclude on September 3, three weeks before the competition in Rome.

It remains to be seen if the BMW PGA would fall the week before or after the Irish Open.

However, it’s understood that Ryder Cup stars McIlroy and Lowry are the driving forces behind a move that would not only hugely enhance the Horizon Irish Open but fit in nicely with their PGA Tour schedules.

Just five of the world’s top 50 played at Mount Juliet from June 30 to July 3 this year, with McIlroy the big absentee.

Lowry has suggested several times the date should be changed to later in the year and he made his feelings clear this summer when it was confirmed by DP World Tour boss Keith Pelley that there were no plans to make it a co-sanctioned event with the PGA TOUR under the Strategic Alliance.

“We’ve got a great new sponsor, a €6m prize fund,” Lowry at the time. “This is one of the biggest tournaments on the European Tour.

“So I’ve heard the talk but it’s not about it being a co-sanctioned event. But we always talk about this date, don’t we?

“Look, we don’t have the best field here this week.

“We have a few of the top players in the world, including myself and Seamus. We have Paddy (Harrington) back from winning the US (Senior) Open, which is great.

“But we’d like to have a stronger field here. Personally, I do feel like the date could be looked at.

“We talk about this every year. I’ve talked about it with the Tour every year and we’d love to have the date where we can guarantee Rory coming back and playing here every year.

“What works for his schedule because we do need to acknowledge what he’s done for the tournament – and what he needs to do to get ready to play his majors, because that’s what it’s all about for him at the moment.

“But I’m not working for the Tour or behind the scenes. I don’t really know what goes into having tournaments on certain dates.

“But we’re here this week, we’ve got a great new sponsor guaranteed for the next six years.

“I’ve played with the CEO, a lovely man, seems very involved and wants to grow the tournament and make it like a festival for Irish golf. We’re in good hands going forward.”

A late August date would see the Irish Open fall the week after the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.
McIlroy has already committed to being at The K Club next year and Power, who is one of the resort’s touring professionals, believes a late August date would be spectacular with Luke Donald’s six picks to be confirmed shortly afterwards.

“I know that date around the BMW PGA is being floated,” Power said before this week’s Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas earlier this week.

“If it’s confirmed that would be some double whammy- play in a great Irish Open and qualify for the Ryder Cup team.”

It’s understood a firm decision is expected in around 10 days.

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