MAJOR champion and Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the next two years – beginning at Mount Juliet Estate, in May.
The 40-year-old succeeds Rory McIlroy and, latterly, Paul McGinley as tournament host of the historic event.
His stint will begin at the iconic County Kilkenny venue, which hosts the island of Ireland’s national open for the first time in 25 years from May 28-31, 2020, while the 2021 venue is yet to be confirmed.
Former Ryder Cup captain McGinley hosted what was regarded as a hugely successful edition at Lahinch Golf Club last year following McIlroy’s four-year stint as host,.
During that time the tournament flourished, becoming part of the European Tour’s prestigious Rolex Series in 2017.
McDowell is now looking forward to building on these strong foundations over the next two years.
The 2020 Irish Open will become the second Rolex Series event of the year when it returns to Ireland, although McDowell would love to host the event in Northern Ireland in another 12 months’ time.
“It’s a huge privilege to have the opportunity to host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in both 2020 and 2021,” said Portrush native McDowell.
“The event has gone from strength to strength over the last few years with the support of Dubai Duty Free and the efforts of Rory and Paul as hosts, alongside everybody at the European Tour.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on that responsibility over the next two years and adding to the history of this great tournament, which has become a global spectacle that Irish golf fans can be proud of.
“Our island is famous for its incredible golf courses and passionate golf fans, both north and south of the border, and obviously I would love to bring the event to Northern Ireland in 2021.
“But my focus now is on next year at Mount Juliet Estate and making sure that is another world-class sporting occasion.”
McDowell’s two-year spell as host of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be another significant entry in his already-impressive CV.
He has won 10 times on the European Tour including the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach – when he famously became the first European winner in 40 years.
Later that year he claimed the winning point in Europe’s 14½-13½ victory in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.
McDowell has played four times overall in the biennial contest, winning nine points, while he was a vice-captain for the first time under Thomas Bjørn at Le Golf National last year.
Colm McLoughlin, chief executive of Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are very pleased Graeme McDowell will take on the role of host for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for 2020 and 2021.
“Graeme has always proved himself to be a wonderful sports person who can perform and compete at the highest levels.
“His vast experience and talent will no doubt further grow the interest among both players and fans in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“Mount Juliet will be a magnificent venue for 2020, it is a stunning parkland course and is often referred to as a ‘great spectator course’ by fans.
“We are looking forward to working with Graeme and the European Tour over the coming months and wish him the best of luck in his work.”
Damien Gaffney, director of Tetrarch – the owners of Mount Juliet Estate – said: “We are delighted with the announcement that Graeme McDowell will be our host here next year and it will be a pleasure to welcome Graeme back to the estate.
“Graeme has played our course previously during the 2004 American Express Championship, and now to welcome him as host of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is fantastic news and we really hope he enjoys the overall experience.
“To have a Major champion such as Graeme hosting this wonderful event is an honour for all of us here at Mount Juliet Estate.”
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “We were delighted when Graeme expressed the desire to host the Dubai Duty Irish Open for the next two years.
“Not only is he a Major champion and Ryder Cup legend, but he is also a terrific ambassador for our game.
“I am certain that he will enjoy the role of host and he will be a great success in it, building on the work of Rory and Paul.
“Having Graeme as host for the next two years allows us to plan and maximise the many opportunities that exist across Ireland for both editions.”
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els won WGC-American Express title at Mount Juliet
MOUNT Juliet previously hosted three consecutive editions of the Irish Open from 1993-95 – won respectively by Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Sam Torrance.
The luxury five-star resort also hosted Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf in 1997, a challenge match between Tom Watson and Fred Couples, won by the latter.
The World Golf Championship’s American Express Championship was held there in 2002 and 2004 – with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els winning respectively.
Early bird ticket prices for the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open begin at €13 for the Wednesday pro-am day, with Thursday and Friday day tickets available for a special price of €23.
Saturday and Sunday tickets begin at €27. Fans can enjoy five days of world-class golf and entertainment for only €83 if they purchase their early bird season tickets before March 3.
Children under 12 years of age are entitled to free entry when accompanied by an adult. Day junior tickets for those aged between 12 and 17 years of age are €10 (€25 for a season ticket) while students aged between 18 and 24, and over 65s, can buy concession tickets at €15 for Thursday and Friday, €20 for Saturday and Sunday (€60 for a season ticket).
Parking access can be purchased for €5 per day, or €10 for a season ticket which covers all five days.
Official tickets can be found online at Eventbrite by clicking here. The resale of tickets on unofficial platforms will render the ticket void. the European Tour warns.
Official hospitality tickets are also available on the ticketing page, or by contacting the European Tour’s sales team on (01344) 840681 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org