At his press conference yesterday, Rory McIlroy was hopeful of posting a good opening round at Royal County Down to qualify for the weekend and challenge for the laurels in the Dubai Durty Free Irish Open.[caption id="attachment_56777" align="alignleft" width="390"] Rory McIlroy signs autographs for his many fans.[/caption]
There is no doubting his enormous drive (excuse the pun), as he has set himself modest targets to win more majors, but he held back from putting a number on these future wins, in keeping with his inate modesty.
But no matter, win, lose or draw this week, Rory in my eyes is already a winner as he has raised the Irish Open to a new level through pure business acumen.
He finished his round on the opening day with an 80 which suggests he is not firing on all cylinders yet. But fortune can change in an instant at RCD.[caption id="attachment_56779" align="alignright" width="390"] Jockey AP McCoy, top golfer Ricky Fowler and Dundrum comedian Patrick Kielty on the first tee box at RCD inn the Pro-Am.[/caption]
The Irish Open will be seen by 450 million people around the world and it will be a major catalyst in generating over £11 million into the local economy in just over a week. Who else has achieved such greatness from our midst in such a short time? And he has managed to attract a sponsorship for a €2.5 million prize fund and seventeen of the top ranking golfers in the world will be participating.
Dubai Duty Free, the main sponsor of the event, was establish in 1987, and is part of the Emirates government, and is one of the leading global retail operations with a turnover of US$19billion.[caption id="attachment_56780" align="alignleft" width="390"] You can’t keep a good snooker player down. Former world champion Denis Taylor practises his putting.[/caption]
This competition is a synergy of brands of Dubai Duty Free, the main sponsors, the Rory Foundation, the European Tour, Royal County Down not to mention Rory McIlroy himself who is supporting the Cancer Fund for Children.
Rory remembers the 2007 Walker Cup and his competitors then such as top golfers Ricky Fowler now his guests. He turned professional a short time after this event and has not looked back rising to the No1 spot in golf with ten PGA tour wins.
Speaking at his press conference, Rory said: “A lot of people are working hard to make the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open a success and I am looking forward to staring on Thursday.[caption id="attachment_56781" align="alignright" width="270"] Rory McIroy teeing off at RCD.[/caption]
“Over recent years I was not enjoying the Irish Open really and I hatched a plan to develop this event with my caddie JP Fitzgerald over a pint of beer. I asked Ricky Fowler and other world class players if they would support it and there was a great response from them. They really liked the idea of getting behind the Cancer Fund for Children. So we have the best players in the world and many thousands of people supporting it. It is just phenomenal.
“I have refreshed myself since the PGA at Wentworth and I’m looking forward to my round this week. I’m feeling pretty fit.
“I have had a long relationship with Dubai Duty Free and there are fantastic sponsors. This all provides a fantastic opportunity for them.”
Rory explained that he was hopeful that he could win this week and donate €420,000 to the Cancer Fund for Children. This would certainly be a tough call given the vagaries of the course and the stiffness of the competition against top golfers.
Rory first cut his teeth in Royal County Down when he was about fifteen years old. He would often come down with his father and play nine holes in the evening. Before the Scottish Open he said he came to RCD to practice and it helped him get the feel of the links course.[caption id="attachment_56782" align="alignleft" width="270"] Walking down the 12th fairway in Royal County Down, Rory McIlroy contemplates his next shot.[/caption]
“I’m just glad I won a US Open title as it is now a bit of a lottery. I want to win more, how many I don’t know, but I’ll keep trying,” he said.
Rory is definitely motivated by his charitable objectives and this could propel him into being one of the game’s all-time superstars. He has a reason to win. He wants children to live better lives. The Rory Foundation is a huge driving force in his life and he makes huge efforts on and off the golf course to support these many good causes which include the Cancer Fund for Children.
The Rory Foundation was first set up in 2013 to provide support for children’s charities that had a special meaning to Rory. He helped launch the new respite centre, Daisy Lodge, in Newcastle in late 2014 for the Cancer Fund for Children. This was a ground-breaking project aimed at providing supported respite for young cancer sufferers and their families. The Foundation has also helped Mencap, SpeakNI, an autism charity, and he is helping fund the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra. Tory has a huge and a brave heart. And he has earned much respect even in his young years as someone who gets things done.
But in the end, as a golfer, winning is about his battle against the golf course, one which he is all very much aware of. This week he has to deal with rain, wind, and the pressures of competing, but Rory McIlroy is a winner no matter what score he gets in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.]]>