Rory McIlroy’s starring role at the Irish Open will continue through 2018, as the Northern Irishman’s charitable foundation will continue to host the tournament for the next three years. And it might attract Tiger Woods to the action.
According to Brian Keogh of the Irish Examiner, Woods and McIlroy have been believed to have talked since April at the Masters about the 14-time major champion signing on for the event. Woods appears to be lined up for a potential come back to the Irish Open in 2016.
That tournament will be held May 19-22, opposite the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson. The Players Championship, a staple on Woods’ schedule, is a week before both of these events.
If Woods does commit to the Irish Open, this would be the second consecutive year that McIlroy’s influence swayed a big name to the tournament. The 26-year-old has played the Irish Open every year since 2008, but the Rory Foundation only started serving as host in 2015. With that new partnership, McIlroy threw his backing behind the event and convinced big name Rickie Fowler to join him for the week.
McIlroy even offered to donate any of his winnings from the 2015 Irish Open to his foundation, but he ended up missing the cut. Regardless, the positive response to his hosting effort was overwhelming.
“I was delighted with the support I received, not only from the players who competed this year, but also from the fans who came along to Royal County Down – they made it another sell-out tournament,” McIlroy said in a release.
The 2016 Irish Open will boast a prize fund that is increased by 60 percent, from $2.85 million to $4.5 million. Next year’s tournament will also earn extra prestige being held at the K Club, a former Ryder Cup location.
“I am sure the K Club – on the 10th anniversary as host of the 2006 Ryder Cup – will be an excellent venue for the 2016 Irish Open,” McIlroy said.