A general view of banners at Ballyliffin Golf Club ahead of the Irish Open Golf Championship at Ballyliffin in Donegal
LIMERICK golfer Cian McNamara has learned his grouping and tee-times for the opening two days of this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open over the spectacular Ballyliffin Golf Club links in County Donegal.
McNamara, from Ballyclough, will begin his Irish Open glory bid from the 10th tee at 9.20am this Thursday morning in the company of fellow Irish professional Simon Thornton and Scotland’s Neil Bradley.
Thirty two-year-old McNamara, who was attached to Limerick Golf Club, has a later tee time in Friday’s second round, setting out from the first tee at 2.20pm.
McNamara, attached to Monkstown Golf Club in Cork, claimed a spot in the Irish Open by placing fourth in the qualifier at Rosapenna Golf Hotel on Sunday evening.
McNamara defeated Kevin Phelan in a playoff to secure his spot in the $7million prize fund Irish Open. McNamara shot a final round 73, to finish behind winner Simon Thornton, who he plays alongside this week in Ballyliffin, and second placed Neil O'Briain and Colm Moriarty.
A star-studded field has descended on Ireland’s northernmost county where Spanish sensation Jon Rahm will set out to defend what was his maiden European Tour title and the victory that set the World Number Six on the path to becoming a global superstar.
Rahm went on to win the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates and has this year added victory on home soil at the Open de España as he looks to solidify a place in Thomas Bjørn’s European Ryder Cup team.
This year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation will carry even more significance with Europe’s best players jostling for a place on Captain Bjørn’s team for the biennal showdown against the USA in Paris this September.
Joining Rahm in the field is tournment host and four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy, 2016 Ryder Cup star Rafa Cabrera Bello, looking to emulate his fellow countryman’s Irish success.
Also taking part is Cabrera Bello’s teammate at Hazeltine Matthew Fitzpatrick, winner of four European Tour titles including the 2016 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, along with another two members of the last Team Europe, compatriots Danny Willett – winner of the 2016 Masters Tournament - and Chris Wood.
Twenty five year old Paul Dunne is looking to add his name to long list of Irish winners which includes Christy O’Connor Jnr (1975), John O’Leary (1982), Padraig Harrington (2007), Shane Lowry (2009) and Rory McIlroy (2016). Three-time Major champion Harrington is once again competing in his home Open.