Rory returns to Ireland
Mount Juliet Golf & Spa Hotel will host the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open when some of the best golfers on the planet grip it and rip it on May 28th through the 31st. The No. 1 player in the world, Rory McIlroy, will hope to rekindle the magic that saw him win the event back in 2016 when he held off Bradley Dredge and Russell Knox to shoot a 12 under par 276 at the K Club in County Kildare. McIlroy co-hosted the tournament through his Rory Fund in conjunction with Dubai Duty-Free from 2015-2018.
McIlroy is looking forward to the tournament and will be playing at the Mount Juliet for the first time, “I’m looking forward to it a lot. It’s a bit different going back for a May date as opposed to July, and at a parkland course at Mount Juliet. I’ve never played the course but got good memories – it was the first time I ever watched Tiger Woods play in person. My dad drove me down and we watched the WGC there and that was really cool, so it’ll be exciting to tee it up there myself and try to win a tournament there. I enjoyed hosting the event – it’s a privilege to host your national open. I would say to G-Mac (fellow Northern Irishman and close friend Graeme McDowell) just try and prepare as best he can for the tournament and make sure he gets his work in before the week. You’ve got a lot going on, but I think everyone who hosts a tournament knows that.”
Spanish sensation Jon Rahm will be back in the saddle for the Irish after winning the tournament in two of the last three years. In 2019, the Irish Open was held at Lahinch Golf Club, where Rahmbo matched his 264-tournament round from his championship in 2017 when he blistered the pace on the final day with an eight-under-par 62 to take home the hardware.
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In his most recent effort, Rahm took third at the WGC-Mexico Championship with a 15 under par and is preparing for The Players Championship before he lands in Ireland. As of this moment, Rahm is being offered at 10-1 to win the Players, trailing only McIlroy who is the odds-on favorite at 7-1.
Getting back to Rahm, the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world has been on fire this season and is primed to win a major, or more, this year. Consider for a moment that the 25-year-old has placed in the top 10 in three of his five tournaments in 2020 and his worst effort was a five-under-par showing at The Genesis Invitational where he ended in 17th place.
If Rahm is to fend off the likes of McIlroy and several other elite talents at the Irish, he will have to temper his emotions and allow his natural ability to do the talking instead of his incendiary response when things don’t go his way. Many point to his outburst at last year’s TPC when he ignored his caddie’s advice and decided to swing for the green out of a left fairway bunker instead of laying up on the 11th hole in the final round at Sawgrass. His choice proved to be his undoing as he bogeyed the hole and shot a dismal 76 for the round, plummeting from the top spot heading into Sunday’s round to a 12th place finish.
Rahm believes he’s grown and has learned from that tirade, as well as a few others, when he remarked, “I think it was 2018 that wasn’t my best golf year, but when it comes to personal growth, it was huge for me,” Rahm said. “It’s stuff I don’t want to talk about in the public and let everybody know what I’m dealing with, but it was huge. And it keeps ongoing.”
“Slowly, I’m just maturing. I’m 25 years old and I was 22 and just out of college. Things just happen.”