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Key facts about the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 28.06.18

WITH the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open teeing off at Ballyliffin Golf Club next week (July 5-8), here are some interesting facts that you probably didnít know about the event and its illustrious 91 year history.
  • The first ever Irish Open tournament was held in 1927 when Scotsman George Duncan lifted the trophy at Portmarnock in Dublin.
  • This yearís event at Ballyliffin Golf Club is the first time the tournament has ever been hosted in Donegal, a county famous for its natural breath-taking beauty and deemed the ĎCoolest Place on the Planetí by National Geographic only last year.
  • As one of eight European Tour events which make up the prestigious Rolex Series, the prize fund for this yearís Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is a whopping US$7 million, compared to the princely sum of approximately £750 in 1927 when winner George Duncan pocketed a cool £150.
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  • Ballyliffin Golf Club consists of two outstanding, contrasting links courses. The Glashedy Links, on which the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be played, is a Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock masterpiece, rated amongst the best links tracks in the world.
  • Jon Rahm is aiming to become the sixth Irish Open champion to successfully defend his title. Nick Faldo holds the record for consecutive wins with three in a row from 1991 to 1993. The only other players to achieve back-to-back wins are Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros (1985-86), Scotsman Colin Montgomerie (1996-97), Welshman Ian Woosnam (1988-89), and Englandís Mark James (1979-80).
  • The biggest winning margin in an Irish Open was in 1987 when Bernhard Langer finished 10 shots ahead of the field at Portmarnock. Last year Jon Rahmís margin of victory was six shots.
  • Jon Rahmís winning 72-hole score of 264 is the lowest in Irish Open history, beating the previous record of 266 that was jointly held by Colin Montgomerie (Fota Island, 2001) and Ross Fisher (Killarney, 2010). Rahmís score of -24 was also the lowest ever recorded in relation to par, beating Christy OíConnor Jnrís 21-under 275 in 1975 at Woodbrook.
  • In 2009 at Baltray, a 22-year-old Shane Lowry from County Offaly became the only amateur ever to win the Irish Open Ė and the third amateur to win a European Tour event.  As an amateur, Shane received no prize money for his historic win but it proved a springboard for a very successful professional career.
  • One record that last yearís champion Rahm did not beat was the lowest 18-hole score of 61 in an Irish Open. This feat was accomplished by Northern Irelandís Graeme McDowell at County Louth in 2009 and again the following year by Englandís Ross Fisher when he won the tournament at Killarney in 2010. However, G-Macís score was 11-under par, compared to Fisherís 10-under.
  • The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is one of the qualifying events for The Open Championship. The leading three players who have not already qualified and who finish in the top ten qualifying for this yearís Open at Carnoustie.
  • In 2012, Royal Portrush became the first Northern Ireland course in more than 50 years to host the event Ė setting a new record as the first European Tour event to sell out prior to play on all four days. A record European Tour attendance of 112,000 over four days (and 131,000 over six days) watched as Welshman Jamie Donaldson was crowned champion, likening his experience to playing in a major championship.
  • Only seven Irish players have lifted their national Open trophy. The most recent was Rory McIlroy who won the title in such spectacular fashion at The K Club in 2016. Other Irish winners are Fred Daly in 1946, Harry Bradshaw in 1947 and 1949, Christy OíConnor Jnr in 1975, John OíLeary in 1982, Padraig Harrington in 2007 and Shane Lowry in 2009.
  • Amongst the golfing stars that will be challenging Jon Rahm for his title at Ballyliffin are tournament host Rory McIlroy, Thomas Pieters, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Paul Dunne, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Danny Willett, Graeme McDowell, Chris Wood, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Alexander Levy and ThorbjÝrn Olesen.
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