Paul McGinley looks forward to a testing Irish Open at Ballyliffin | Golf News

Last Updated: 02/07/18 5:21pm

Paul McGinley is confident that Ballyliffin will be a worthy addition to the list of esteemed venues for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open this week.

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The historic tournament takes place over 18 testing holes over the Glashedy Links course in County Donegal, with Rory McIlroy hosting for the fourth year in succession before handing over the reigns to McGinley next year.

McIlroy headlines another strong field which includes the likes of defending champion Jon Rahm, who defied the wet and windy conditions at Portstewart 12 months ago to fire a superb, closing 65 and romp to a six-shot victory.

The stunning view from the seventh tee on the Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin

The stunning view from the seventh tee on the Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin

Weather forecasters are predicting a bright and breezy week at Ballyliffin this week, conditions which should be ideal for an entertaining tournament on what McGinley described as a “strong golf course”

“The Glashedy is a great course, and it’s a big golf course,” said McGinley, who made his debut in the tournament as a 22-year-old amateur in 1989. “But like all links courses, whether it’s in Ireland or Scotland, we are looking for moderate weather. Bright and breezy is ideal.

Rory McIlroy is tournament host for the fourth time

Rory McIlroy is tournament host for the fourth time

“We need the breeze, and we certainly don’t want it playing too soft as was the case at Royal Birkdale last year, when there was no wind on the Saturday and low scores were plentiful.

“But we don’t want gale-force winds like we saw at Royal County Down a few years ago, we just want it bright and with a good strong breeze to test the best players in Europe.

“Ballyliffin is certainly a strong golf course, and one of the strongest links courses you can play anywhere in the world. It’s a big expanse of land that is well equipped for big crowds, and I’m sure we’ll see another hugely successful event this year.”

Paul McGinley is in the field at Ballyliffin this week

Paul McGinley is in the field at Ballyliffin this week

McGinley is also looking forward to taking over as the tournament host next year, when the event visits another first-time venue at Lahinch in the south-west of the Emerald Isle.

“I’m very excited about hosting the Irish Open at Lahinch next year,” added the former Ryder Cup-winning captain. “The south-west of Ireland is such a great place for golf, and it’s the corner of Ireland that attracts most visitors because of the huge variety of links courses in a close proximity.

McGinley takes over as tournament host at Lahinch next year

McGinley takes over as tournament host at Lahinch next year

“Historic courses like Ballybunion, Waterville and Lahinch are all in that area, and it’s an area that is very well equipped and ready for tourists and big crowds, for transport, for accommodation, and entertainment.

“I think Lahinch is a great venue, and it was important with The Open being held at Royal Portrush next year that we moved away from that market. We wanted to open up a whole new market so that’s why we chose Lahinch, the south-west of Ireland was the most logical place.”

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