Open Champion Darren Clarke has admitted he will be “raring to go” when the Irish Open comes to his home Royal Portrush Golf Club in under a month’s time.
The Portrush resident and Honorary Member of the club will take the next four weeks off to finally rid himself of a troublesome groin injury which flared up again last week during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and will next play competitively when he tees up in the first round of the Irish Open on Thursday June 28.
Speaking during the official Irish Open Media Day at Royal Portrush, Clarke said: “Everyone who knows me knows that I have been looking forward to the Irish Open on my home course ever since it was announced, in January, that it was coming back here.”
“Now the fact this injury means I won’t play officially until I tee up on the Dunluce Course in a month’s time means I will really be raring to go. Everyone in Northern Ireland is counting down the hours for this championship to start, and I’m one of them.”
The event has seen record-breaking ticket sales, becoming the most popular event outside the Open Championship. As a result of the strength of the ticket sales, the European Tour recommends that anyone still wishing to see the world’s best golfers in the flesh should guarantee their tickets now by visiting www.europeantour.com/tickets to purhase them in advance.
Advance day tickets for the Irish Open are available for £30, a saving of £5 on the gate price, with four day season tickets priced at £70, a saving of £10. Advance concession day and season tickets are priced at £20 and £50 respectively. Hospitality packages are sold out for the first two days, but are still available on Saturday and Sunday.
As well as Clarke, major winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have committed to playing along with US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley.
Northern Ireland Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: "Excitement is really starting to build around the Irish Open as the clock ticks down to the tournament at the end of June. I know our three Major winners are looking forward to showing their fellow professionals what makes golf here so special and I’ve no doubt that those playing Royal Portrush for the first time will be hoping a little bit of the Northern Ireland ‘magic’ rubs off on them."
The Irish Open was last staged in Northern Ireland in 1953 when Scotsman Eric Brown won at the Belvoir Park Golf Club in south Belfast and will be the tenth time in total, although the first since the birth of The European Tour in 1972.