When the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation gets underway at Royal County Down Golf Club between Thursday May 28 and Sunday May 31 it will serve to further enhance the emirate’s ever-increasing profile on the global sporting landscape.
The combination of Dubai Duty Free signing up as title sponsor of this year’s tournament, which was announced in March of this year, as well as the personal involvement of World Number One Rory McIlroy through his foundation, the 2015 tournament promises to be one of the most exciting yet.
McIlroy’s involvement has ensured a star-studded field will compete in the famous event. The 2015 Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler will make his debut as he returns to the links of Royal County Down for the first time since 2007 when he competed against McIlroy in the Walker Cup. Fowler will be joined by US Ryder Cup teammate Patrick Reed.
Many of The European Tour’s biggest names will also be on show, including Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els, as well as Irish Major-winning trio Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington. With the inclusion of Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher the tournament can boast eight of last year’s victorious European Ryder Cup Team at Gleneagles.
Such is the lure of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the world class field also includes ten previous winners of the tournament, including Soren Hansen, Mikko Ilonen, Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher, Shane Lowry, Richard Finch, Stephen Dodd and Brett Rumford, along with the previously mentioned Harrington and Donaldson, comprising what promises to be the strongest line-up the event has ever seen.
“We’re excited about our title sponsorship of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open,” said Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin, “and it seems that we can look forward to having the best field the tournament has had in a long time.”
Dubai has become one of the world’s biggest supporters of sport over the past 25 years with the Irish Open’s new title sponsors, Dubai Duty Free, right at the forefront. Long-time sponsors of leading prestigious golf events on home soil, such as the DP World Tour Championship, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, Dubai Duty Free also host huge events such as the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which attracts the top players in the world for a back-to-back ATP and WTA fortnight.
Already supporters of several horse racing events, including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh and major meetings at Newbury and Ascot in England, the Irish Open will represent the first time the world’s leading Duty Free operation has taken up the title sponsorship of an international golf event outside the UAE. Additional support will come from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Emirates Airline, and European Tour Property, Jumeirah Golf Estates, in helping to put the emirate in the sporting spotlight once again.
“It’s a credible thing that Rory McIlroy is doing,” commented McLoughlin. “He’s only a young man and to bring his Foundation into the event is admirable. There’s a connection between the Rory Foundation and our Dubai Duty Free Foundation, in that both help children via a number of charities.
“We consciously decided very early on at Dubai Duty Free that sport was a good thing. There’s a feelgood factor about sport. We were advised by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, that part of our duty was to promote Dubai and in the tradition that Dubai as an emirate promotes sporting events it’s good that Emirates Airline, Jumeirah Golf Estates, and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing are also supporting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.”
With Dubai already playing host to two of The European Tour’s biggest golf events, in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, which signals the end of the season-long ‘Race to Dubai,’as well as the climax to the Ladies European Tour in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, the emirate’s support for the Irish Open, spearheaded by Dubai Duty Free, represents another significant feather in the region’s golfing, and sporting, cap.