McIlroy defends Close crown

Defending champion Rory McIlroy has set his sights on Tiger Woods' course record in the Irish Close at the European Club.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy has set his sights on Tiger Woods' course record in the Irish Close at the European Club.

The 17-year-old champion wants to eclipse Woods' four under par 67 when he tees it up in the first round of 36-hole qualifying for the Golfsure sponsored championship at Wicklow links on Saturday.

The Holywood teenager prepared his defence of the title by beating his mentor Nick Faldo in an exhibition at Ballyliffin earlier this week.

Now he's raring to have a go at Pat Ruddy's Brittas Bay creation which at 7,368 yards is longer than two of this year’s major venues - Winged Foot and Hoylake.

McIlroy declared: “The European Club is probably the best links course that I have ever played and I include Royal St Georges, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush in that.

“It’s just the definition to it and then there’s the sleepers in the bunkers. The fairways are the best I’ve ever played on. It’s totally unbelievable.

“It’s so tough and so penal. I love playing on the tougher courses. I love St George’s. That’s tough. I love Royal Co Down and here.

“I love courses where you really have to think your way around. It gets me focussed much more. That’s pretty much why I’m so impressed with it.”

The European Club is slightly shorter than Murvagh, which measured 7,385 yards when it hosted the Close in 2004.

With tees were pushed up at the Donegal venue that week, the European Club will rank as the longest Close venue in history providing the weather stays fine.

The only major absentee from the 150-strong field is Warrenpoint's Jim Carvill, who has withdrawn due to work commitments.

Tee times, Golfsure Irish Amateur Close at the European Club (Par 71)

Sat/Sun 1st Tee (10th)

7.30 (12.00) Alastair McCully (Banbridge) Gerard Lawlor (Citywest) Thomas O'Flynn (Fota Island)

7.39 (12.09) Colin Clancy (Stackstown) Jim Mulready (Castle) Mark Redmond (Blainroe)

7.48 (12.18) Niall O'Connor (UCD/Elm Park) Derek McNamara (Connemara) Bryan McSweeney (Woodbrook)

7.57 (12.27) Michael Mulryan (Athenry) Paul O'Kane (Moyola Park) Graham Nugent (Kilkenny)

8.06 (12.36) Chris Hughes (Royal Portrush) Eoin O'Sullivan (The Island) Michael Brett (Portmarnock)

8.15 (12.45) Pat Errity (Delgany) Peter Sheehan (Ballybunion) Donal O'Brien (L'town & B'town)

8.24 (12.54) David Houlihan (K Club) Stephen Crowe (Dunmurry) Noel McGrane (Royal Dublin)

8.33 (13.03) Padraig McGrath (Dromoland) Alex McCloy (Ballymena) Simon Ward (Co Louth)

8.42 (13.12) Niall Gorey (Killeen) Robert McCarthy (The Island) Michael Horan (Birr)

8.51 (13.21) David Finn (Mallow) Keith Crowley (Lee Valley) Kieran Kennedy (Co Tipperary)

9.00 (13.30) David Joyce (The Curragh) Stephen Loftus (Ennis) Robert Cannon (L'town & B'town)

9.09 (13.39) Gary O'Flaherty (Cork) Ryan Boal (Scrabo) Robert Forsythe (Ballyclare)

12.00 (7.30) John Toner (Woodbrook) Aidan Dooley (Athlone) David Murray (Skerries)

12.09 (7.39) Mark Hammond (Moyola Park) Alan Darbey (Sutton) Richard Guilfoyle (Kilkenny)

12.18 (7.48) Dara Ford (Co Sligo) Neil O'Briain (Royal Dublin) Dara Lernihan (Castle)

12.27 (7.57) Fergal Rafferty (Dungannon) Sean O'Flaherty (Hermitage) Mark King (Athenry)

12.36 (8.06) Paraic Connolly (Clontarf) Colin Cassidy (Portmarnock) Cian Daly (Castletroy)

12.45 (8.15) Brendan Walton (The Island) John McDermott (Stackstown) Declan McInerney (Lahinch)

12.54 (8.24) David Rawluk (The Islaand) Serryth Heavey (Co Sligo) Frank Flynn (L'town & B'town)

13.03 (8.33) Ciaran McAleavey (Banbridge) David Keating (Dun Laoghaire) Don Coughlan (Douglas)

13.12 (8.42) Andrew Pigot (Dunmurry) Derek McNeill (B'bofey & S'orlar) David Lally (Tuam)

13.21 (8.51) Eddie McCormack (Galway) James Fox (Portmarnock) Alan Condren (Greystones)

13.30 (9.00) David Daly (Muskerry) Alan Glynn (Porters Park) Stephen Moloney (Castletroy)

13.39 (9.09) Ronan Maher (Nenagh) Tony Cleary (East Clare) Greg Carew (Edenderry)

13.48 (9.18) Declan Moran (The Island) Damien Coyne (Tuam) Thomas O'Neill (Rathsallagh)

10th Tee (1st Tee )

7.30 (12.00) Eddie Power (Kilkenny) John Waldron (Muskerry) Stephen Dwyer (Newlands)

7.39 (12.09) Mark Reck (Lucan) Nick Heather (Portmarnock) Johnny McWilliams (Belvoir Park)

7.48 (12.18) Andrew Boyle (Hollystown) Gavin O'Connor (Malahide) Hannes Boch (Ballybunion)

7.57 (12.27) Adrian Morrow (Portmarnock) Niall Turner (Muskerry) Garrett Mallon (North West)

8.06 (12.36) Paul O'Hanlon (Curragh) Desmond Morgan (Mullingar) Rory Leonard (Banbridge)

8.15 (12.45) Stephen Grant (Birr) Greg Bowden (Hermitage) Andrew McCormick (Scrabo)

8.24 (12.54) John McGinn (L'town & B'town) Nicky Grant (Knock) Aengus McAllister (Portmarnock)

8.33 (13.03) Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye) Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) Connor Doran (Banbridge)

8.42 (13.12) Colin McCarthy (St Annes) Brendan McCarroll (Ballyliffin) Mark Campbell (Stackstown)

8.51 (13.21) Pat Murray (Limerick) Gareth Shaw (Lurgan) Shane Lowry (Esker Hills)

9.00 (13.30) Rory McIlroy (Holywood) Darren Crowe (Dunmurry) Seamus Power (West Waterford)

9.09 (13.39) Cian McNamara (Limerick) Michael Sinclair (Knock) Aaron O'Callaghan (Douglas)

12.00 (7.30) Derek Byrne (Douglas) John Curran (Elm Park) Jayson McIntyre (City of Derry)

12.09 (7.39) Eddie Lonergan (Kilcoole) Joe Moore (L'town & B'town) Gary Flynn (Delgany)

12.18 (7.48) Wayne McCully (Donaghadee) Patrick Sheehy (Limerick) John Turner (Royal Portrush)

12.27 (7.57) Daniel Lewis (Woodbrook) JP Hughes (Douglas) Raymond Williams (Baltinglass)

12.36 (8.06) Chris Carvill (Belvoir Park) Steve O'Donnell (Portarlington) Alastair McKinley (Shandon Park)

12.45 (8.15) Brian O'Connor (Hermitage) Gary McDermott (Co Sligo) Joe Lyons (Galway)

12.54 (8.24) Harry Diamond (Holywood) Kingsley Lewis (Skerries) Michael Lavelle (Belmullet)

13.03 (8.33) Cian Curley (Newlands) Gary Lynas (Shandon Park) Ronan O'Connor (The Island)

13.12 (8.42) David Scully (Galway) Michael Buggy (Castlecomer) Ger Hall (Edenderry)

13.21 (8.51) Daniel Coyle (Co Louth) Barry Cashman (Belvoir Park) Cathal O'Malley (Westport)

13.30 (9.00) Jason Somers (L'town & B'town) Keith O'Neill (Strandhill) Liam MacNamara (Woodbrook)

13.39 (9.09) Kieran Canty (Douglas) John L Hughes (Woodbrook) Andrew Pitcher (The Island)

13.48 (9.18) Mark Rowe (Athlone) Kevin Stack (Dungarvan/UCC) David Ruddy (Thurles)

More in this section

CourtsGolfHeathrowPlace: IrishPlace: Wicklow linksPlace: BallyliffinPlace: Brittas BayPlace: HoylakePlace: Royal St GeorgesPlace: Royal CountyPlace: St George’sPlace: MurvaghPlace: DonegalPlace: BanbridgePlace: Fota IslandPlace: StackstownPlace: CastlePlace: ParkPlace: ConnemaraPlace: WoodbrookPlace: Moyola ParkPlace: The IslandPlace: BallybunionPlace: L'town & B'townPlace: DunmurryPlace: BallymenaPlace: Co LouthPlace: Lee ValleyPlace: Co TipperaryPlace: The CurraghPlace: CorkPlace: BallyclarePlace: AthlonePlace: SkerriesPlace: SuttonPlace: KilkennyPlace: Co SligoPlace: Royal DublinPlace: AthenryPlace: ClontarfPlace: PortmarnockPlace: CastletroyPlace: LahinchPlace: The IslaandPlace: Dun LaoghairePlace: DouglasPlace: GalwayPlace: MuskerryPlace: Porters ParkPlace: NenaghPlace: east ClarePlace: RathsallaghPlace: TeePlace: 1st TeePlace: NewlandsPlace: Belvoir ParkPlace: HollystownPlace: North WestPerson: McIlroyPerson: Rory McIlroyPerson: Tiger Woods'Person: Woods'Person: Nick FaldoPerson: Pat RuddyPerson: Jim CarvillPerson: Alastair McCullyPerson: Gerard LawlorPerson: Thomas O'FlynnPerson: Colin ClancyPerson: Jim MulreadyPerson: Mark RedmondPerson: Niall O'ConnorPerson: Derek McNamaraPerson: Bryan McSweeneyPerson: Michael MulryanPerson: Paul O'KanePerson: Graham NugentPerson: Chris HughesPerson: Eoin O'SullivanPerson: Michael BrettPerson: Pat ErrityPerson: DelganyPerson: Peter SheehanPerson: Donal O'BrienPerson: David HoulihanPerson: Stephen CrowePerson: Noel McGranePerson: Padraig McGrathPerson: Alex McCloyPerson: Simon WardPerson: Niall GoreyPerson: KilleenPerson: Robert McCarthyPerson: Michael HoranPerson: David FinnPerson: Keith CrowleyPerson: Kieran KennedyPerson: David JoycePerson: Stephen LoftusPerson: EnnisPerson: Robert CannonPerson: Gary O'FlahertyPerson: Ryan BoalPerson: ScraboPerson: Robert ForsythePerson: John TonerPerson: Aidan DooleyPerson: David MurrayPerson: Mark HammondPerson: Alan DarbeyPerson: Richard GuilfoylePerson: Dara FordPerson: Neil O'BriainPerson: Dara LernihanPerson: Fergal RaffertyPerson: Sean O'FlahertyPerson: Mark KingPerson: Paraic ConnollyPerson: Colin CassidyPerson: Cian DalyPerson: Brendan WaltonPerson: John McDermottPerson: Declan McInerneyPerson: David RawlukPerson: Serryth HeaveyPerson: Frank FlynnPerson: Ciaran McAleaveyPerson: David KeatingPerson: Don CoughlanPerson: Andrew PigotPerson: Derek McNeillPerson: David LallyPerson: Eddie McCormackPerson: James FoxPerson: Alan CondrenPerson: David DalyPerson: Alan GlynnPerson: Stephen MoloneyPerson: Ronan MaherPerson: Tony ClearyPerson: Greg CarewPerson: Declan MoranPerson: Damien CoynePerson: Thomas O'NeillPerson: Eddie PowerPerson: John WaldronPerson: Stephen DwyerPerson: Mark ReckPerson: Nick HeatherPerson: Johnny McWilliamsPerson: Andrew BoylePerson: Gavin O'ConnorPerson: Hannes BochPerson: Adrian MorrowPerson: Niall TurnerPerson: Garrett MallonOrganisation: European ClubOrganisation: Royal PortrushOrganisation: AthenryOrganisation: KilkennyOrganisation: Royal DublinOrganisation: DromolandOrganisation: Greystones
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