Things are hotting up for the golf tournament of the year at Royal Count Down with Reigning US Open Champion and Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer, fellow former World Number One Luke Donald and American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed have all added their names to a truly international field for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Following the addition of Dubai Duty Free as title sponsor, the prize fund will increase by 25% to €2.5 million with the 2015 champion taking home €416,660 compared to the €333,330 which Mikko Ilonen received last year.
The addition of two ex-World Number Ones in Kaymer and Donald, along with former WGC-Cadillac Championship winner Reed, will further enhance the strongest field assembled for the event from May 28 – 31, when at least five of the top 20 players in the world will battle it out over one of golf’s most famous links courses, Royal County Down.
The field now includes five current or former players who have reached the pinnacle of the World Ranking – current Number One Rory McIlroy, Donald, Ernie Els, Kaymer and Lee Westwood – and eight Major Champions in McIlroy, Els, Kaymer, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie and José Maria Olazábal.
Between them, those eight players have shared no fewer than 16 Major titles. The event now carries the most Official World Golf Ranking points since its inception while the holders of three of the four ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments will be in the field – Kaymer (US Open) and McIlroy (The Open and US PGA).
The importance of the event on The Race to Dubai schedule is further signified by the presence of seven current or former European Number Ones – Donald, Els, Harrington, Kaymer, McIlroy, Westwood and Robert Karlsson.
Englishman Donald last played the Irish Open in 2004, but was part of Europe’s victorious and record-equalling Ryder Cup team of 2006 at The K Club. US Open Champion Kaymer last played in Ireland in 2008, while American Ryder Cup star Reed will be making his debut in the tournament.
Kaymer, two-time Major Champion and winner of the Players’ Championship on the US PGA Tour in 2014, is anticipating the Irish Open ‘buzz’ at Royal County Down.
He said: “There is definitely a good feeling about this year’s Irish Open and I think Rory has done a great job to get such a great field for the event and to create a really nice atmosphere about the tournament. He is very passionate about the tournament, and also the golf course at Royal County Down, so I am sure it will be a great week.”
Donald said: “My performances and results have been getting better and better recently and I am feeling very positive about a huge summer of golf ahead. The Irish Open will be a big part of that and I am looking forward to playing Royal County Down and some really ‘old school’ links golf – I think the links golf factor will add a lot to the event and it’s looking like it’s going to be a great week.”
Reed, currently ranked 14th in the Official World Golf Ranking is one of golf’s rising stars having recently become only the fourth player in the past 20 years (after Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy) to win four US PGA Tour titles before the age of 25 while in capturing the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2014 he became, at 23, the youngest champion in one of those elite events.
McIlroy was quick to express his delight at another three global stars signing up for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation.
“It’s great to see Martin, Luke and Patrick adding their names to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – to have another three truly world class players at the tournament can only give the Irish Open fans a better experience at Royal County Down so I’d really like to thank the guys for supporting the event.”
The news of three world class additions to the field was welcomed by Dubai Duty Free’s Colm McLoughlin, who said: “We are delighted to be the title sponsor of this prestigious tournament. The calibre of world class players is fantastic and we are really looking forward to watching competitors like Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald and Patrick Reed perform for the crowds at Royal County Down in May. They are all tremendous additions to the field and will bring some extra excitement to the competition.”
Of the increase in prize money, he added: “This is our first year to sponsor the Irish Open and we want to invest in the tournament and work with the European Tour and the Rory Foundation in order to attract the best players in the world.”
More than 80,000 spectators are expected and tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold for the event, which is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland.
Advance tickets to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are currently available at £30 per day with season tickets available for £75. Families will be delighted to hear that under-16s will be admitted FREE as long as they are accompanied by an adult (up to four children are allowed with one paying adult).
For more information on the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation or to purchase tickets, visit www.irishopen.ie. For information on accommodation offers and golf in Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/irish-open-2015.
Anyone travelling to the event is advised to plan their travel in advance with Translink offering a range of hassle-free and good value travel options. Click on www.translink.co.uk/irishopen for full details.