Rory McIlroy: World number one confirms Irish Open return in May

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

Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will return to the Irish Open this year after missing the 2019 tournament.

The world number one will join tournament host Graeme McDowell for this year's tournament at Mount Juliet between 28-31 May, with Open champion Shane Lowry also included in the field.

Jon Rahm will defend the title he won at Lahinch in 2019, the Spaniard's second Irish Open triumph.

"I'm looking forward to it a lot," said four-time major winner McIlroy.

"It's a bit different going back for a May date as opposed to July, and at a parkland course at Mount Juliet.

"I've never played the course but got good memories - it was the first time I ever watched Tiger Woods play in person."

McIlroy hosted the Irish Open between 2015 and 2018 - winning at the K club in 2016 - but opted out of the 2019 field in order to prepare for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

2010 US Open champion McDowell has assumed hosting duties for the 2020 tournament at the County Kilkenny venue, taking over from Paul McGinley.

"I enjoyed hosting the event - it's a privilege to host your national open," added McIlroy, 30.

"I would say to GMac, just try and prepare as best he can for the tournament and make sure he gets his work in before the week.

"You've got a lot going on, but I think everyone who hosts a tournament knows that."

BBC Sport NI will have highlights of each round of the 2020 Irish Open from Mount Juliet.

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