McIlroy to skip Irish Open

Rory McIlroy will skip the Irish Open to give himself every chance of mounting a challenge at The Open in his homeland.

The four-time major winner has hosted the Irish Open for the last four years and was crowned champion in 2016, but he will not be among the field at Lahinch Golf Club in July.

McIlroy believes missing the European Tour event should enhance his chances of getting his hands on the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush a fortnight later.

He told BBC Sport Northern Ireland: “If there is ever a year when I feel I can miss this Irish Open, it’s this year.

“If I was to play the Irish Open, the Open Championship would be my third event in a row.

“For me, that’s not the best way to prepare for what could be the biggest event of my life.”

The former world number one added: “I love the Irish Open. I’ve supported it in my whole career.

“The people of Ireland are still going to see me playing golf because I’m going to play the Open Championship and I’m sure a lot of people will travel from down south to see me play.”