The four-time Major winner is missing the Irish Open for the first time since 2007

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McGinley: Rory Missing Irish Open “A Huge Body Blow”

Paul McGinley hosts the Irish Open this week at the stunning Lahinch Golf Club in what is a huge week for Irish golf and the European Tour.

The Rolex Series returns along with the traditional summer links swing comprising of the Irish Open, Scottish Open and Open Championship.

McGinley has done very well to attract a strong field featuring some big European names, but it can’t be ignored that there is one glaring name missing from the start sheet.

That name, of course, is four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, who is not playing this tournament for the first time since 2007.

Rory considers this his national Open, with the Golfing Union of Ireland representing both the North and Republic, but it is the Open Championship in two weeks in his home country that he is really focused on.

Rory McIlroy wins Irish Open

Rory McIlroy won the Irish Open at the K Club in 2016

He is playing next week in Scotland but has opted to miss Lahinch to give himself the best chance of lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush.

McGinley was asked in his pre-tournament press conference about McIlroy’s decision to skip the Irish Open, and described it as a “huge body blow.”

“Rory is obviously a huge body blow. And the question, the challenge is, of course there’s a challenge. That was a huge challenge, particularly after the announcement that we were coming here that he wasn’t going to play. Of course it is.

“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, of course it’s a body blow.

“But I think we’ve recovered from that strongly. And I think the fact that we have sellout 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.

“We’ve had great champions here over the years. Nick Faldo, Seve — wherever you want to go — Langer, Olazábal, look through all the greats, they’ve all won it. Rory’s won it.

“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. And I think the validation of sellout crowds that we’re anticipating, certainly the weekend is an indication that we haven’t been too much affected by Rory not playing.”

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