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For the first time since 2006, the Irish Open will take place this week without Rory McIlroy. However, tournament host Paul McGinley insists the event will cope just fine without him.

McIlroy, who preceded McGinley as host of the tournament, has decided to skip the event this year, choosing to tune up for The Open at Royal Portrush by playing in the Scottish Open instead. 

The former world No.1 and four-time major winner’s decision has caused much consternation in the ‘Emerald Isle’ but, although he says Rory’s absence is a ‘body blow’, McGinley believes there are lots of reasons to believe this week’s event at Lahinch will be a success.

“No Rory is obviously a huge body blow,” said the 2014 Ryder Cup winning captain. “That was a huge challenge.

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“A guy like that is, I’d probably say he’s the most charismatic golfer in the world and he’s from Ireland and he decides not to play this year, so of course it’s a body blow. 

“But I think we’ve recovered strongly and I think the fact that we have sell-out crowds is a validation of that, that it’s the Irish Open and it will always be bigger than any one player. Rory would be the first person to agree with that.

He added: “I think in 20 years’ time, when Rory’s career is kind of winding down, there will be another young Rory McIlroy coming on. And that’s the evolution. The game is always bigger than any one player.

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author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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