Sell out says Rory McIlroy won’t be missed

THAT no player is bigger than the tournament itself is set to be hammered home over the coming days as the ‘Sold Out’ signs go up around Lahinch as the Irish Open’s first coming to County Clare is a stunning success.
That’s the verdict of tournament host Paul McGinley, who when addressing the media in Lahinch on Tuesday referred to the “elephant in the room” that is Rory McIlroy’s absence from this week’s $7 million (€6.2m) Rolex Series event.
“Yes, Rory’s (absence) obviously was a huge body blow,” said McGinley, “Of course there are challenges and that was a huge challenge, particularly so early after the announcement that we were coming here, that he wasn’t going to play.
“A guy like that who, outside of Tiger is probably the most charismatic in the world, he’s from Ireland and he decides not to play this year, of course it’s a body blow,” he added.
However, with only a limited number of tickets remaining for the event, McGinley has pointed to the success story of the Irish Open already ahead of its start this Thursday morning when Nino Bertasio (Italy), Wade Ormsby (Australia), David Law (Scotland) are the first to tee off at 6.45am.
“We’re well on our way to having sell-out crowds for the weekend which is unbelievable really,” said McGinley, “considering The Open also is going to be on here in a few weeks time in this country of ours and we can sell out, hopefully, two golf tournaments in the space of three weeks.
“I think we’ve recovered from that strongly [from McIlroy’s absence] and the fact we’ve sell-out crowds is validation of that, that the Irish Open will always be bigger than any one player. Sell-out crowds this week that we’re anticipating, certainly this weekend, is an indication that we haven’t been too much affected by Rory not playing
“Rory will be the first person to agree with that. We’ve had great champions here in this Open over the years – Nick Faldo, Seve, Langer, Olazabal – all the greats, they’ve all won it. Rory’s won it. And I think in 20 years time, when Rory’s kind of winding down a little bit, there will be another young Rory McIlroy coming along and that’s just the evolution.”
After announcing that he would miss the tournament, McIlroy explained the special circumstances that contributed to his decision. “If there is ever a year when I feel I can miss this Irish Open, it’s this year,” he told the BBC.
“If I was to play the Irish Open, The Open Championship would be my third event in a row. For me, that’s not the best way to prepare for what could be the biggest event of my life. I love the Irish Open. I’ve supported it in my whole career. The people of Ireland are still going to see me playing golf because I’m going to play The Open Championship and I’m sure a lot of people will travel from down south. I never thought I would play a major in Northern Ireland. It would be the biggest achievement of my career if I was able to win it,” he added.
Twelve of the world’s top 50 golfers are in Lahinch for this week’s Irish Open, led by 2017 champion and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm, who is the world number 11.



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