The Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish Open
The Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish Open has some prominent names like Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Danny Willett. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic champion, is the latest player to enter the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, heading into the final day of confirmation for the tournament taking place in the first week of July.

A champion at the Emirates Golf Course in 2012, the 35-year-old Spaniard was the latest to confirm for this year’s tournament with an entry cut-off on Thursday. The 156-player field will tee-off for a total prize fund of $7 million at the Lahinch Golf Club that is perched on the famous Wild Atlantic Way coast of Ireland — for the first time from July 4-7.

Joining Cabrera-Bello is an impressive field consisting of players such as former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer alongside fellow major champions Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Danny Willett — all who have confirmed their participation in the second Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai season.

Also added to the field at the County Clare course will be previous Rolex Series winners Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Shane Lowry alongside 2014 Ryder Cup-winning captain and host Paul McGinley, while the home campaign will be led by 2016 Olympian Seamus Power making his first appearance on home soil in six years.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, was delighted to have such a star-studded field especially when the Open marks a return to Ireland for the first time in 51 years later this season.

“One of the greatest joys for us is to have The Open in Ireland, and that shows inclusivity of our sport and country. I am convinced that our tournament has played a role in taking golf to another level in Ireland,” McLoughlin told media in the presence of European Tour’s Nick Tarratt, and DDF officials Sinead El Sibai and Salah Tahlak, on Wednesday.

Since Dubai Duty Free took over the title sponsorship in 2015, the growth of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has been astonishing. Already one of golf’s oldest and most historic events, having been played since 1927, it became part of the European Tour’s prestigious eight-event Rolex Series in 2017, which saw the prize fund increase to a whopping $7 million, making it one of the biggest events on the Race to Dubai schedule.

The 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open provided one of the most dramatic finales in the tournament’s 91-year history, as Russell Knox holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to clinch a place in a play-off alongside New Zealander Ryan Fox.