European Tour

Irish Open eyes $10 million purse

2017-07-07 15:04
Rory McIlroy (Getty)

Portstewart - Irish Open organisers are looking to increase the prize fund to $10 million in a bid to attract more of the leading American players to Ireland's premier golf event. 

This year's event is the richest ever with a prize pool of $7 million and is hosted for a third year running by four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy

If the drive to increase the prize fund is successful, it would make the Irish event the richest on the European Tour. 

McIlroy managed to persuade current world No 2 Hideki Matsuyama to Portstewart along with Spanish sensation Jon Rahm and reigning Olympic gold medal winner Justin Rose, respectively No 11 and No 13 in the world. 

The only Americans in the competition are three European Tour-based players in Daniel Im, Paul Peterson and David Lipsky, with Im sharing the lead on day one with a new course record equalling 64. 

World No 1 Dustin Johnson will travel to Ireland next week, but not to partake in any official competition.

It is understood he will be joining noted Irish entrepreneur's JP McManus and Dermot Desmond playing practice rounds on a number of links courses in the Dublin area ahead of the following week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. 

However, Irish-born Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairperson and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, and main sponsor of the Irish event, is confident that in boosting the prize money the likes of Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler will travel to contest the event. 

"As title sponsor we have this year a prize fund of $7 million but it would be terrific if we increased that to $10 million we may be able to attract the leading American stars. 

"The policy to move the date this year and to return to a links course are all very good things. 

"So if that works out we could see 150 000 spectators attending the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and hopefully $10 million will help coax all the top Americans players to come to Ireland."

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