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without Jon Rahm but with Shane Lowry

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PRESENTATION – Having lost its Rolex Series status due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tournament, moved from May to September, can count in its field on the last winner of the British Open disputed in Ulster, the Irishman Shane Lowry. Defending champion, the Spaniard Jon Rahm is however absent.

As everywhere in the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed our habits. Golf, and more particularly the European Tour, was no exception to the rule. Alas. Its calendar has thus been completely turned upside down, currently offering an ersatz program, the antithesis of the big, skilfully oiled machine that is the PGA Tour. Somehow, Keith Pelley, the Canadian boss of the European circuit, and his team have however managed to concoct a semblance of recovery, which should materialize in the coming weeks with the arrival of new dates until the final of the Race scheduled for December 10 to 13 on the Dubai side, at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Shifted from the end of May to the end of September, the Irish Open can also boast of having been “saved” from outright cancellation, unlike many tournaments such as the French Open for example. However, this rescue did not allow it to retain its Rolex Series status. Exit then the 7 million dollars usually involved in this kind of high-end meeting. The endowment was thus significantly revised downwards: 1.25 million euros. “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is an integral part of the European Tour program and despite the obvious challenges of staging any event under the current circumstances, we felt it was important to continue with the tournament, provided that we can do it safely, explains this same Kieth Pelley on the official website of the European Tour. With the ongoing restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, we have chosen to move the tournament to Northern Ireland and are extremely grateful to Gary Henry and all the members of Galgorm Castle Golf Club (very close to Ballymena) for stepping up to welcome us. »

Northern Ireland is therefore hosting the event for the 4th time since 2012. This one was to be disputed beforehand in the Republic of Ireland, at Mount Juliet, in County Kilkenny, from May 28 to 31. In a hurry, the province of Ulster, on the strength of its recent experience of hosting the British Open 2019 at the Royal Portrush Golf Club, ending here 68 years of absence from the rotation of The Open, did not hesitate for a second to apply to once again host the most important golf tournament on the island.

The tournament organizers can count on the presence of the idol of a whole people, namely the Irishman Shane Lowry. Holder of the Claret Jug for several more months due to the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the British Open to be played at Royal St George’s (Kent), Lowry is the natural favorite for victory. It would be his second success after 2009 when, still an amateur, he beat Englishman Robert Rock in the playoff, becoming a national star at the same time. Present last week at the US Open where he finished 43rd at +15, he is back here with an exclusive stage of the European Tour since his 15th place at the Saudi International at the very beginning of February… “Although he has been extremely difficult for all players to plan their global tournament schedule this season, I wanted to do everything possible to get home to play the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and I’m glad I was able to commit to it, clarified on the official website of the European Tour the current 30th player in the world. Obviously, I was really looking forward to playing in front of our fans as Open champion this year, which would have been really special, but unfortunately it won’t be. I’m sure everyone will be supporting from home and watching the event on TV, so hopefully I can put on a good performance at Galgorm Castle and give the Irish fans something to shout about. I have already had the chance to win the Irish Open and I would love to win it again. »

Double winner in 2017 and 2019, Jon Rahm, he is not there, just like Rory McIlroy, who preferred to focus his season on the PGA Tour. Among the other players involved are the recent winner of the Portugal Masters, South African George Coetzee and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts. On the tricolor side, they are nine to make the trip. Victorious in Austria on July 18, Joël Stalter is a leader in the company of Julien Guerrier, eighth in the Portugal Masters after having throned at the top of the leaderboard halfway through.

Irish Open (European Tour) – 1,250,000 euros in prize money

Players to watch

Shane Lowry (Irl), Wilco Nienaber (AfS), Lucas Herbert (Aus), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Scott Hend (Aus), Justin Harding (AfS), Joost Luiten (PB), Wade Ormsby (Aus), George Coetzee (AfS), John Catlin (USA), Garrick Higgo (AfS), James Sugrue (Irl), Masahiro Kawamura (Jap), Nacho Elvira (Esp), Joakim Lagergren (Sue), Jazz Janewattananond (Tha ), Conor Syme (Eco), Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), Laurie Canter (Eng), Carlos Pigem (Esp), Ben Stow (Eng), Liam Johnston (Eco).

The engaged French

Joël Stalter, Julien Guerrier, Robin Roussel, Antoine Rozner, Robin Sciot-Siegrist, Clément Sordet, Romain Wattel, Damien Perrier, Mathieu Fenasse.

To follow the Irish Open (European Tour) on television:

Thursday, September 24, 1st round: 2:00 p.m. (Golf +)

Friday, September 25, 2nd round: 2:00 p.m. (Golf +)

Saturday, September 26, 3rd round: 2:30 p.m. (Golf +)

Sunday, September 27, 4th round: 2:30 p.m. (Golf +)

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