Dubai: The European Tour has announced that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be played in Northern Ireland for the fourth time since 2012 when the Galgorm Castle Golf Club hosts this year’s tournament from September 24-27.
It will be the first time the County Antrim venue has hosted the island of Ireland’s national Open with the event moving into the date vacated by the rescheduling of The 2020 Ryder Cup to 2021.
The 2020 Ryder Cup would have been a celebration of Irish golf with three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington captaining Europe in the contest at Whistling Straits – the third European Captain from the island of Ireland in the past four contests.
The 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open was originally scheduled to take place at Mount Juliet Estate in County Kilkenny from May 28-31, but was postponed on March 30 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
With quarantine restrictions for travellers into the Republic of Ireland ongoing and the ban on mass gatherings still in place, the European Tour made the decision to move the tournament to Northern Ireland where it will be subject to similar guidelines to the current ‘UK Swing’ events, including being played behind closed doors.
Planning remains on-going for the tournament to return to Mount Juliet in 2021 providing all health guidelines in place at that time can be met.
Following the changes to the date and the venue, allied to the overall disruption to the schedule, the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will have a prize fund of €1.25 million and therefore will not be part of the Rolex Series.
The priority of course has been to stage an event that strictly follows all government protocols in light of Covid-19 and to ensure the safety of players and all those involved in the event
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will, however, continue to drive Ireland’s status as a future Ryder Cup host country, the synergy even stronger given the fact that now, the centenary of The Ryder Cup and the centenary of the Irish Open both fall in 2027.
Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is an integral part of the European Tour’s schedule and despite the obvious challenges of staging any event in the current circumstances, we felt it was important to continue with the tournament providing we could do so safely.
“We did that, first and foremost with the support of Colm McLoughlin and everyone involved with our title sponsor Dubai Duty Free who once again showed commitment and understanding of the current global situation, and proved what a wonderful partner of the European Tour they are. We also did it with the support of the Northern Ireland Executive who deserve our sincere thanks.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “We have been working closely with the European Tour over the past several months to find a way of staging the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open this year. The priority of course has been to stage an event that strictly follows all government protocols in light of Covid-19 and to ensure the safety of players and all those involved in the event.
“We are pleased that the Galgorm Castle Golf Club in County Antrim has been selected as a suitable venue, with the Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort as the official accommodation. Without a doubt, the tournament will be different this year but we think that the players and fans are going to enjoy this return to world-class golf on the Island of Ireland.”
Diane Dodds, Economy Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, said: “It is wonderful to see top class golf return to Northern Ireland. After the success of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush last year and of recent Irish Opens in Portstewart, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland is proving once again that it is made for golf.”