English quartet added to Portstewart line-up for Irish Open
This year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club looks like being one of the strongest editions in the event's recent history, with four more members of the world's top 50 added to the field yesterday.
English quartet Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton have all confirmed their attendance on the north coast from July 6-9, adding to a top-class line-up that already includes Justin Rose, Spanish sensation Jon Rahm and the tournament's host, Rory McIlroy.
Westwood is a veteran of 10 Ryder Cups and has won 42 professional events worldwide, while Willett joins McIlroy, Rose, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington as big-name Major champions in the field, having won the Masters at Augusta last April.
Hatton and Fleetwood are two of the rising stars of European golf, and both have earned reputations as links specialists, so should relish the test of Portstewart's Strand Course.
Hatton claimed his maiden European Tour win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October and has surged to 16th in the world after a string of impressive performances in America, while Fleetwood claimed the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January and has since added runner-up finishes in the WGC-Mexico Championship and Shenzhen International to lie second in the Race to Dubai.
With further big names expected to be added in the coming weeks, demand for tickets is high and they can be bought at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.
Willett will hope to have regained top form come July after withdrawing from the prestigious Players Championship due to a back injury yesterday to compound a disappointing year to date.
Willett, who split with long-time caddie Jonathan Smart last month, was 11-over-par when he retired after nine holes of the second round.
The 29-year-old , who has been hampered by back problems throughout his career, struggled to an opening 79 and had covered the back nine at Sawgrass in 40 before calling it a day.
Willett wrote on Twitter: "Not good to have to withdraw but swinging very poorly is putting a lot of unwanted strain on the back.. body and mind need a rest!!"