Rory McIlroy to miss Irish Open to focus on Open at Royal Portrush
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 21/02/19 9:29pm
Rory McIlroy will maintain his European Tour membership this season, despite confirming he will miss the Irish Open to focus on preparing for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The Open is returning to McIlroy's native Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 and the 29-year-old is looking to win his first major title since 2014.
McIlroy has hosted the Irish Open since 2015 and won it at The K Club in 2016, but Paul McGinley will take over hosting duties at Lahinch this year.
"It's hugely disappointing for the people of Ireland," said McGinley. "Rory is obviously always a big attraction for a tournament that has become an elite event for the European Tour. For him not to be playing is a big blow for all of us, there's no doubt about that.
"We knew it was coming, we talked about it in Dubai last year and now he's made it official. Of course it's a big disappointment, but Rory wants to change his schedule heading into The Open at Royal Portrush. He wants to play Scotland instead of Ireland and he didn't want to play three in a row.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see whether he's made the right decision or not. Obviously, The Open is one he dearly wants to win, and it's on a course where he was the course-record holder on the original layout."
McGinley was critical of McIlroy's suggestion that he might only play two regular European Tour events this season, a decision which would mean losing his membership and the right to be Ryder Cup captain in the future.
However, the Northern Irishman says he will play the minimum number of four events to maintain his membership. McIlroy needs to win the Masters in April to become only the sixth player to complete a career grand slam.