Thousands of golfing fans will be descending on the Donegal course over the next four days to watch the likes of Rory McIlroy and last year’s winner John Rahm of Spain taking part in the competition.
The Mayor of Derry and Strabane had a walk around the event ahead yesterday ahead of today’s first round of action.
The early clubhouse leader so far is Ryan Fox who carded a five under par 67.
The pick of the Irish players so far is Padraig Harrington who is joint second on four under par with five other players.
Mayor Boyle said: “What a fantastic day at Ballyliffin for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“It is great to see so many people out enjoying the sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere.
“Well done to everyone involved – great chance to promote the North West region.”
Former world number one Rory McIlroy believes the hard and fast conditions at Ballyliffin will offer him and other Open Championship hopefuls – such as defending Irish Open champion Jon Rahm – ideal preparation for Carnoustie.“Obviously it’s a great event in its own right but there’s elements to this golf course that if you can hit the shots here, you should be able to do it at Carnoustie as well,” McIlroy said.
“I haven’t played here in 12 years and I’d sort of forgotten how good it was and how beautiful the area was.
“It’s a tough track. You can’t put it in bunkers off the tee. You have to hit fairways. The greens are getting firm. It’s getting bouncy out there.”
John Rahm has been a popular figure since touching down in Ballyliffin Golf Club, where he hopes to defend his title on the Glashedy Links.
“To come back and get the same recognition, it’s absolutely amazing,” Rahm said.
“Everywhere I go around here, a lot of people tell me they hope I defend my title again.
“I would probably expect everybody to think Rory or Graeme or Shane or somebody who is actually from Ireland to win but to get the same recognition is absolutely special.
“I don’t know if it’s Spanish players, or just me and my character that really connects with the Irish people but it’s amazing to be a champion and to be an Irish champion.
“To come back, and the respect I’ve gotten, it’s absolutely mind-blowing. If it’s not better, it’s equivalent to how well I get treated in Spain, and that’s hard to do, because Spanish players are cherished. It’s hard to be a great player coming out of Spain.”Tags: