A refreshed Rory McIlroy wants to get back to winning ways at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, but has revealed he will not make a penny if he does.
McIlroy is looking for his third win in five events after following victory in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play with a third consecutive top-10 finish in the Players Championship, a seven-shot win at Quail Hollow and a missed cut in the BMW PGA Championship last week.
Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy pictured today at 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am, Royal County Down Golf Club.
And if the world number one claims the first prize of £416,000 on Sunday, all of it will be donated to his own charitable foundation, which is hosting the tournament at Royal County Down.
“The Irish Open for me for the last few years was becoming a bit of a.... I don’t want to say a pain, but it didn’t quite fit in the schedule or I just wasn’t enjoying it as much as I could,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference.
“And then the European Tour approached us about getting involved and we thought it was a perfect way to really kickstart the foundation and really start to help other people because of who I am and what I do.
“So honestly, what I want to get out of it this year is just to raise a lot of money for the foundation for the cancer fund, and ultimately if I play well, and if I do well in the tournament, then all the money that I earn is going to go towards that as well.
“So I’m not really playing for myself this week. I’m playing for a lot of other people and it gives me an incentive to go out there and enjoy it and try to play well.”
McIlroy has missed the cut in the Irish Open for the last two years, but believes he will benefit from a third early exit in four years at Wentworth, where he collapsed to a second round of 78 in the defence of his title.
“I wanted to play well last week but I think at the same time having the weekend off will benefit me for this week,” the 26-year-old added. “I do feel refreshed.
“I didn’t get out of bed until one o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday. I came here on Sunday and played a quiet 18 holes. I came back on Monday morning and played.
“I feel very prepared. That (Wednesday’s pro-am) was my third practice round. I haven’t played three practice rounds for a tournament since the Masters. I really just want to do well this week and it (missing the cut) has given me a bit of extra time which I think I can use.
“Even if you play four or five weeks in a row, physically you feel fine. It’s more just the mental challenge of trying to keep it at that high level the whole time. Sometimes you just need to let yourself come down for a few days. That’s what sort of happened. I just couldn’t really keep it going.”
McIlroy’s involvement in the event has resulted in a top-class field, with Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler one of the star attractions.
Fowler and McIlroy competed against each other in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down and McIlroy added: “It wasn’t that hard a pitch to make to Rickie.
“I knew what a fan he was of the golf course. We played against each other here and Rickie is a great guy. I was very pleased that Rickie and Sergio (Garcia) were in the play-off at the Players a couple of weeks ago; it creates more buzz about this tournament and it was great to see him win.”
McIlroy hosted a Q&A with Fowler and Garcia on Tuesday at Daisy Lodge, the centre he opened last October which offers short breaks to families affected by cancer.