Eager Graeme McDowell confirms he’ll play Irish Open

Graeme McDowell has followed Ernie Els to become the second US Open winner in confirm his appearance in what is shaping up as one of the most high profile Irish Opens.

Eager Graeme McDowell confirms he’ll play Irish Open

McDowell, who commences his PGA Tour season at this week’s Honda Classic in West Palm Beach, needed no coaxing to contest this year’s Irish showpiece at Royal County Down.

“I haven’t played at Royal County Down for a few years and I am very much looking forward to this year’s Irish Open,” said McDowell. “So I don’t have to asked, as I will be there with bells on. But then in saying that, I have only played the course about a half-a-dozen times.”

After the sell-out crowds three years ago at Royal Portrush, McDowell envisages tighter control on the numbers set to flock to Royal County Down.

“Unfortunately, from what I hear, organisers are going to have to control the gate to 20,000 spectators, as the course cannot take a big crowd,” said McDowell.

“When they staged the Walker Cup at RCD in 2007, I believe they restricted the crowd to around 10,000 a day, that’s the only disappointment. But for those who will be present, it’s going to be something else seeing so many great players competing on a great golf course.”

While tournament host Rory McIlroy has been twisting arms and getting the likes of Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley to tee up, McDowell is determined to do his fair share in ‘selling’ the event to his US colleagues.

“For sure I’ll be talking to the guys over here competing in the States as we are very proud of Royal County Down, so I will certainly be encouraging guys to come over,” said McDowell.

“With the tournament being hosted by Rory’s foundation, it is just so great to have a guy like Rory competing because he is more than capable now of carrying a golf tournament like the Irish Open with just himself competing,” said McDowell.

“Rory’s already doing great things getting Rickie and others to commit, so it’s going to be an awesome week.”

Dustin Johnson, a team-mate of Fowler on the winning 2007 USA Walker Cup team, is also considering adding the event to his schedule, especially after he found out the host venue.

“Oh, the Irish Open this year is at Royal Country Down?” he said, after losing out in a play-off in Sunday’s concluding Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles.

“It’s an awesome golf course. It’s probably the best links course I’ve played, ever. I’m still in the process of working out my schedule this year but if it works out, I’d love to play in the event.

“I also haven’t spoken to Rory yet but there’s still time, so it would be great to return to Royal Co Down as I’ve got some pretty special memories from a few years back.”

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