The European Tour's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is moving forward with a rotating-host structure, similar to what has been done successfully in the last few years with the revival of the late-season British Masters.
After having served as host since 2015, Rory McIlroy will become one of a handful of Irish (or Ulster) hosts in a rotation, including Paul McGinley, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington.
McIlroy will remain host in 2018, when the Irish Open goes to Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal this July. Paul McGinley will then become host in 2019. Beyond that, the European Tour didn't announce Feb. 5 which courses would host in future years or the order in which players would host.
“Ireland has been blessed with many legendary golfers over the years and to have five of them agree to host the country’s national Open over the next five years shows a terrific commitment both to their homeland and to the European Tour," said European Tour head Keith Pelley in making the announcement. “I cannot use the word commitment without paying special thanks to Rory McIlroy, who has worked tirelessly alongside our fantastic tournament sponsor Dubai Duty Free over the past four years to raise the tournament to an entirely new level, and I am delighted he will return to the role of host in a future year.”
It appears the tournament's primary charitable beneficiary will also change with each host. McIlroy's Rory Foundation has been the lead since 2015. McDowell is thrilled to be a part of the new rotation, particularly for the charitable component.
“It’s now up to myself, Darren, Paul and Padraig to join Rory as tournament hosts of our national Open and what an honor that is going to be for all of us," he said. "You just have to look at the British Masters over the last three years to know that the ‘tournament host’ model can be hugely successful, and I am sure we will all have our own ideas how to keep growing the Irish Open and giving Irish golf fans a tournament to be proud of."