European Tour

Rory McIlroy: “Irish Open was the first time I ever watched Tiger play live”

Before the start of the tournament Rory McIlroy talks about his return to the Irish Open on the European Tour and the upcoming last Major of the current season.

Q. Welcome back to the Irish Open, and to Mount Juliet. You were out there playing today. Tell us how you got on. How is Mount Juliet looking today?

Rory McIlroy: It’s looking fabulous. Wonderful weather. Great golf course. It’s great. I’ve never played here before. I’ve been here to watch when the World Golf Championships were here in 2002 and 2004; we came down to watch, but a little different playing it. And, yeah, obviously vantage point is a little different, as well.

But yeah, it’s in great shape. I played the back nine today. I’ll play all 18 tomorrow in the Pro-Am. Landed this morning at 5.15 into Dublin, so it’s been a long day and pretty tired, but determined to stay up and watch England and Germany here in a little bit and we’ll go from there.

Q. Wondering about your memories of those tournaments in 2002 and 2004. Many champions here are major winners. Is that something that you feel that this is a course that maybe suits players of that calibre; that you should be up there this week because of that?

Rory McIlroy: Yeah, I hope so. I hope to continue that trend, that’s for sure.

Yeah, I remember quite a bit. I said to Harry, the last time I was on the 18th green here was during the prize ceremony when Tiger won, and I remember I somehow sneaked my way like under the rope onto the back of the green, and I was standing right behind him and his glove was still in his back pocket. And like I could have reached and got it and ran; it would have been a good story to tell him but I obviously didn’t.

It was the first time I ever watched Tiger play live. I remember the first shot I ever saw him hit was a drive off the 5th hole, the par 5, and he hit a 2-iron into the green. It was really cool. I idolised him growing up and to actually see the man in the flesh was pretty exciting.

And then in 2004, I was sort of — I had sort of made a name for myself in the amateur scene at that point and I had gotten to know Chubby and Darren and stuff, so I was a little more in the — I remember being in the clubhouse and stuff and meeting Ernie after he won. Had a little more access then because that have.

But yeah, really good memories coming down here watching. It’s amazing that it’s been 17 years and the tournament hasn’t been back since. Glad to be back and certainly a lot’s changed in the last 17 years since the last time I was here.

Q. You’re working on a few things with Pete Cowen and a couple majors have come and gone. What would be a good second half of the season? You have The Open coming up, the Olympics and The Ryder Cup. What would be a good end of season review if you were looking at it in four months’ time?

Rory McIlroy: Yeah, I think getting myself into contention in another major. So getting myself into contention at The Open would be great. I think having a chance to win both the FedExCup and The Race to Dubai; I think they are two pretty good goals of mine I’d like to try to achieve.

And yeah, like have a great Ryder Cup. Obviously that’s very important. There’s a lot of golf to play up until that point, but I’d say they are the main goals. Just give myself a chance at The Open. Give myself a chance in both FedExCup and Race to Dubai, and try to have a really good Ryder Cup.

Q. Thoughts on being back the at Irish Open for the first time since 2018?

Rory McIlroy: It’s feet like three years. A lot has happened since. I played Ballyliffin obviously in 2018. Made the decision not to play in 2019 because I felt like that was the best preparation for The Open at Portrush, and then obviously last year with the pandemic and everything. Things have started to open back up again, so it is nice to be back.

Yeah, it’s been a while. I haven’t been home. I haven’t been back here for nearly a couple years, and that’s the longest time I’ve spent away for a while. But it is, it’s nice to get back. I think if the weather was like this all the time, I’d probably want to come back more.

But it is, it’s great to be back and great to be playing an Irish Open again and got a look at the back nine at Mount Juliet today and it’s a great golf course.

This is the first time back at the Irish Open since you hosted it for four years, and that in itself brought a lot of extra pressure. Do you feel a weight is lifted? Does it feel different coming back to the Irish Open?

Rory McIlroy: A little bit. I think there’s always going to be a bit of added pressure when you come back and play an Irish Open, especially obviously being from here, but also being the favorite for the tournament and all that sort of stuff. So there’s always those sort of pressures. But I feel like as long as I just stick to my game plan and my own expectations and try to get the most out of myself, then that’s all I can do.

But yeah, I’m looking forward to this week. I feel like the Irish Open that I won at The K Club, it’s a pretty similar set up to what it is here. Might be a little firmer this week because of the weather. But decent parkland courses, it’s something familiar to me. It’s what I’ve been playing for the last couple years. Yeah, I feel good about my game.

So yeah, there’s always going to be pressure there. But I think if I just stick to what I’m doing and put my head down, I’ll be okay.

Q. You haven’t played in front of home fans since The Open; I know you’re excited to play in front of fans again since things opened up, but I’m sure this will be extra special this week?

Rory McIlroy: Yeah, it will. I mean, I wish more — it would be great if more fans were allowed in, but I understand that’s not quite possible at this time in this country. But it’s at least nice that we are playing in front of somebody, right.

Whenever we started back last year, when there was no fans allowed, it was a tough atmosphere to play in, and getting used to playing in front of fans again in the States has been really nice. It was great to get that win at Quail Hollow in front of a lot of people and being in contention at the U.S. Open with quite a few people there, as well.

This is a bit of a step back from what we’re used to over the last few weeks, but it’s better than playing in front of nobody.

Q. What did it mean to you to win this historic championship back in 2016?

Rory McIlroy: It meant an awful lot. The Irish Open has been a big part of my career. I first played this event as an amateur in 2005. I went to watch Irish Opens as a kid and I think as well, 2016 with the involvement with the foundation at that point, as well, and raising so much money and then obviously winning and having that prize money go to charity, as well, it meant a lot for a lot of reasons.

Personally it was great to win an Irish Open but also it meant a lot another ways, too, which was very fulfilling.

Q. Give us your impression of the course so far.

Rory McIlroy: It’s good. I think with the weather, it has the potential to become quite fiery over the week, which is going to make it play pretty short. It’s already a short enough golf course by modern standards. But it’s going to be tricky. Fairways are narrow. I think it’s got the potential to become quite fiddly, a lot of like just putting it in position and going from there.

I think if you’re smart, you can play pretty conservative with the par 4s. You can obviously take advantage of the par 5s and make birdie there. But there’s plenty of chances out there, and pretty sure the scoring is going to be pretty low.

Q. How are you feeling about your game coming in?

Rory McIlroy: I’m feeling good. I played well in the U.S. Open. Had a chance on the back nine. Things didn’t go obviously the way I wanted them to but I felt very encouraged walking away and some of the work I’ve been doing with Pete’s really started to bed in. I didn’t really do much last week because I’m on the road five of the next six weeks and just wanted to spend as much time with my family as possible because they are not on the road with me. I think I hit balls one day. So I’m looking forward to getting back into it this week.

European Tour

Rory McIlroy to tee it up at Scottish Open on European Tour

Four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy will bring further star power to a world-class field assembling at the 2021 Scottish Open after confirming he will be one of five players from the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking to tee it up at the Renaissance Club from July 8-11.

McIlroy will make his seventh appearance at Scotland’s national open – and his first since 2019 – as part of a star-studded line-up including World Number One and recent U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, and the third, fourth and fifth ranked players, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

Rahm, the current Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex leader, will go in search of a fifth Rolex Series title when he makes his Scottish Open debut alongside fellow Major winner Morikawa and four-time PGA Tour winner Schauffele, while the 2017 US PGA Championship winner Thomas returns for a second appearance.

World Number 11 Tyrrell Hatton will also look to add to his multiple Rolex Series titles when he tees it up alongside fellow 2018 Ryder Cup stars Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson, the current European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington, and his newly appointed Vice Captains Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell.

Reigning Race to Dubai Champion Lee Westwood is also confirmed for this year’s event, alongside 12-time European Tour winner Ian Poulter, fellow Englishman and defending champion Aaron Rai and their compatriots Matt Fitzpatrick, Matt Wallace and 2016 Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett, who have 17 European Tour titles between them.

Leading the home charge will be Robert MacIntyre, the highest-ranked Scotsman in the world at 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking, while American stars Billy HorschelScottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris are amongst the players making their debuts as the second Rolex Series event of the 2021 Race to Dubai takes it’s traditional slot in the week before The Open.

A strictly limited number of tickets are on sale now for each of the four Scottish Open competition days. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available on site during the tournament.  To purchase your tickets, click here.

Ladies Tours

Meet Sol, the official mascot of the 2023 Solheim Cup

Los Arqueros Golf hosted the unveiling of the mascot of the competition which will be held at the Finca Cortesín (Costa del Sol, Andalucía)

Energy, light, optimism, life, hope, warmth and joy are some of the values transmitted by Sol, the official mascot of the Solheim Cup that was presented Friday afternoon, June 18th in a fun event that took place in the Costa del Sol club of Los Arqueros Golf. The event was attended by Francisco Salado, President of the Provincial Council of Málaga, José Antonio Mena, Mayor of Benahavís, and Nuria Rodríguez, Malaga Tourism Delegate for the Junta de Andalucía, on behalf of all the entities and institutions that sponsor and support this biennial international competition between the United Stated and Europe women teams that will be hosted for the first time in Spain from September 18-24, 2023.
Sol delighted all the guests at the event and the children of the golf schools of the Costa del Sol who accompanied her in Los Arqueros. The mascot wore its finest clothes in a festive exhibition that starred together with Laura Gómez and Ana Peláez, young Spanish golfers from Málaga who dream of being able to play in the first edition of the Solheim Cup to be played in Spain.
The Solheim Cup begins with “Sol” (“sun” in Spanish), an unequivocal link with Andalucía and the Costa del Sol, and a perfect representation of the image that those who visit our country have in mind. Like the star, Sol arrives with the intention of illuminating the future and setting the course for the youngest golfers in Spain, becoming the friendly and unforgettable icon of this competition.
“We are very excited about the role that Sol will play from now on, as it will contribute to bring the competition closer to the younger fans around the world and will serve to identify the tournament with a key element of our country, Andalucía and the Costa del Sol. We would like the whole sporting world orbiting around Sol and the Solheim Cup in 2023, and that’s why all the institutions, organizations and companies that support the competition are doing our best,” explained Alicia Garrido, executive director of Deporte & Business.
The 2023 Solheim Cup, an event of Exceptional Public Interest that will be hosted at Finca Cortesín, is sponsored by PING, Costa del Sol and Rolex as Global Partners; and by AndalucÍa, Acosol, the local council of Marbella and the local council of Benahavís as Official Partners.

European Tour

European Tour unveils ‘every birdie counts’ campaign to support UNICEF

The European Tour is delighted to announce a season-long campaign to support UNICEF’s target to  deliver two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses globally. Through the ‘Every Birdie Counts’ campaign, the Tour’s overarching ‘Golf for Good’ initiative will contribute to the child rights agency’s global role in delivering vaccines for the COVAX Facility.
COVID-19 is, without question, the biggest global emergency the world has faced since World War II. Vaccines – delivered through the COVAX Facility – are the key to finding a way out of the crisis.
UNICEF is the only global organisation equipped to deliver an operation of this size. Utilising an existing global infrastructure that has provided humanitarian aid and development programmes for children worldwide 75 years, UNICEF is currently leading the supply of two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE), tests and treatments to frontline workers, teachers and those at highest risk of infection, many of them in the hardest to reach places on the planet.
This is the biggest health and logistics operation in history. UNICEF is working round the clock to make sure systems are ready and all the equipment is in place to distribute the vaccines. The plan is ambitious, the scale and speed unprecedented.
Now, the European Tour players have the opportunity to do their part on the golf course through the ‘Every Birdie Counts’ campaign, which is an integral part of the Tour’s overarching CSR Programme ‘Golf for Good’.
From now until the end of the season – and also counted retrospectively from January – every birdie made in tournaments on the European Tour will see the Tour contribute €1 to the campaign, every eagle seeing €10 donated and every albatross netting €1000.
Every birdie could provide four face masks to keep health workers safe as they vaccinate their communities, while every eagle will result in a donation to UNICEF which could cover the in-country delivery costs to fully vaccinate a frontline worker against Covid-19.
UNICEF will be the sole charitable beneficiary of the ‘Every Birdie Counts’ campaign across the entire European Tour season, outside of the four Rolex Series events, where charities nominated by tournament sponsors and partners of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the DP World Tour Championship will also benefit.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “One of the key pillars of the Golf for Good initiative we launched last year is our support for worthy causes and communities around the world – I can’t think of a more appropriate, or indeed necessary cause to support under that banner right now than UNICEF and their key role as part of the COVAX Facility.
“The work UNICEF have done for the past 75 years and are currently doing in the battle against the pandemic is extraordinary and we are delighted to be able to offer our support, and the support of our players, in any way we can.
“Every birdie, eagle or albatross made by any of our players in a tournament is a special moment; this announcement today has just given a greater resonance and meaning to each and every one.”
Gordon Glick, Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said: “The European Tour’s support of UNICEF’s COVAX appeal is helping ensure rapid and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines – irrespective of a country’s wealth. By supporting UNICEF, the European Tour is helping the overall effort to procure and deliver two billion doses of life-saving vaccines for all 191 countries participating in the COVAX Facility, including those already facing humanitarian challenges. Together, we can deliver the world’s largest vaccination campaign, in record time, and build a brighter future for the world’s children.’
One European Tour member eager to pledge his support to the campaign is England’s Paul Casey, who as well as being a 15-time European Tour champion and four-time Ryder Cup player, is also a UNICEF Supporter.
Casey said: “UNICEF does amazing work that is not often seen and if I can do anything to help, it is to raise awareness of what the child rights agency do around the world which, in turn, will hopefully lead to funds being raised so the teams can carry on their efforts.
“What UNICEF are doing now on behalf of the COVAX Facility is crucial, delivering two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, most notably in very hard-to-reach places. Those vaccines will be used for to health workers, social workers and teachers – the people in high-risk areas, as well as the most vulnerable.
“If they succeed, families will finally be able to regain vital access to health, nutrition and protection services that have been compromised during the pandemic. Vulnerable children will be able to return to their schools. The future of the next generation is at risk here and UNICEF can play a massive role in addressing that.”

(Text: European Tour)