Golf Digest Middle East - - The Golf Life Golfers We Like -

With Rory McIl­roy back as host and de­fend­ing cham­pion, it’s lit­tle won­der the ti­tle spon­sor is look­ing for­ward to the July 6-9 Dubai Duty Free Ir­ish Open. In­deed, Colm McLough­lin, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Chair­man and CEO of Dubai Duty Free is so happy with the as­so­ci­a­tion he’s look­ing well-beyond July’s supped up 2017 edi­tion at Port­stew­art; DDF are poised to take up a two-year con­tract ex­ten­sion once the orig­i­nal four-year spon­sor­ship of the Euro­pean Tour event ex­pires next year.

“We think be­ing the ti­tle spon­sor of the Dubai Duty Free Ir­ish Open is good for Dubai and that’s why we do it,” said McLough­lin. “[It] re­flects our brand very well and helps us to com­mu­ni­cate with our cus­tomers in an en­gag­ing and in­ter­est­ing way. For us, it is much more than just a tour­na­ment, it truly is a real fes­ti­val of golf.”

Part of that en­gage­ment will be an Ara­bian Nights party for play­ers and of­fi­cials while Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola has been con­firmed as a spe­cial guest at a pre-tour­na­ment fundrais­ing evening in Belfast hosted by McIl­roy. All pro­ceeds will go the Rory Foun­da­tion.

One of the Euro­pean Tour’s eight new Rolex Se­ries events, the #DDFIr­ishOpen is set to be beamed to 450 million homes world­wide. An en­hanced $7m purse and a links test a fort­night shy of the Open Cham­pi­onship at Royal Birk­dale has also helped lure a star-stud­ded sup­port cast in­clud­ing Justin Rose, Hideki Mat­suyama, Jon Rahm, Danny Wil­lett, Dar­ren Clarke, Graeme McDow­ell, Padraig Har­ring­ton, Thomas Pi­eters, Rafa Cabr­era Bello, Andy Sul­li­van, Matt Fitz­patrick and Chris Wood.

“Port­stew­art is a won­der­ful links course that will re­ally test the skill and men­tal­ity of the play­ers, so with all things com­bined we are an­tic­i­pat­ing… an­other epic sport­ing en­counter on North­ern Ire­land’s Causeway coast.”

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