An emotional Rory McIlroy said donating his €666,000 winner’s prize to charities made his first Dubai Duty Free Irish Open victory even more special.
McIlroy, 27, secured a three-shot victory to win his national open at the tenth time of asking, but it was his role as tournament host that brought the Irishman close to tears, as he waited to sink the final putt.
The four-time major winner, and world number-three, become a host of the European Tour event 12 months ago, on behalf of his Rory Foundation, and having sealed victory over Scotland’s Russell Knox, and Wales’s Bradley Dredge, at the K Club, he donated his winnings, to be divided between the foundation’s nominated local children’s charities, Barretstown, the Jack and Jill Foundation, and the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice.
McIlroy said the emotion got to him on the 18th green, after he sent in a brilliant approach shot that sealed the win.
“It all just sort of hit me. I had a little bit of time on the green, when (playing partners) Russell and Danny (Willett) were finishing out, and I was trying to hold back the tears then.
“Golf-wise, this week, it’s obviously very important to me, but the work that we’ve put into this tournament, and the work that we’ve put into the foundation, and the people that we are going to help from this week.
“I mean, we’ve already raised over half a million euro, before Sunday, for the three chosen charities, and then all the winnings go towards that, as well, so we’ve broken the million-euro mark this week, which is absolutely incredible.
“I don’t usually get emotional about golf or about wins, but this one, it means just a little bit more, because it’s not just for myself. It’s for a lot of other people. It’s a day I’ll not forget for a while.”
Mcllroy’s personal donation will add to the other fundraising efforts his foundation has built around Irish Open week, and which will be in place for at least the next three years of the tournament.
Last week saw the Holywood star host an evening with Alex Ferguson, at the Dublin Convention Centre, in front of 1,800 people, while a percentage of the ticket money from the week’s 91,374 spectators will also benefit the foundation.
“All these things, I’m not turning up for myself. I’m here for other people and I’m here for other causes, and that gives me more fulfillment than hitting those golf shots on 16 and 18.
“They are great, and, in golfing terms, it’s fantastic and whatever, but I’m almost prouder of what we’ve achieved, this week, off the golf course than on it.”
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