Golf

Jon Rahm back to defend Irish Open golf title

Spain's Jon Rahm celebrates winning the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club

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Jon Rahm was a surprise winner of the Dubai Duty Free PGA Irish Open Championship, hosted by the Rory Foundation, at Portstewart last year and he is coming back to defend the title at Ballyliffin on July 5 to 8, hoping to close a yawning 21-year gap.

That's how long it is since the defending champion managed to hold on to the Irish Open title, Colin Montgomery being the last player to achieve that feat when he retained the crown at Druid's Glen in 1997.

It was Spaniard Rahm's first victory on the European Tour and he has never looked back since. It catapulted him up the ranking and he currently holds the World Number Three position

Rahm's confirmed return – last year he promised to return - is sure to be welcomed by the Irish fans and the recent victory for Rory McIlroy in the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament at Bay Hill, in Florida, adds further gusto to the event.

The unexpected victory of Rahm, at Portstewart, made the 2017 event memorable.

The winner strode home with six shots to spare, thanks to a superb final round of 65.

The upcoming Irish Open will be the fourth event of the 2018 Rolex Series.

“It was extremely special last year,” recalled Rahm, who went on to win the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship to become the first multiple Rolex Series event winner He has already added a second US PGA Tour title to his trophy cabinet this year.

“Not only was it my first European Tour victory, it was a Rolex Series event and I am a Rolex ambassador so it meant a lot in many ways.

“But it was also the first time I was leading or tied for the lead going into the final round and to perform the way I did was amazing, making a great par save on two and then holing out on four, on top of the display of golf I had after that.

“It's really easy to get comfortable and hold on to the score but I just kept making birdies and hitting good shots and I experienced a part of myself which I didn't know I had, so it was a lot of fun.

“It's amazing that Rolex is partnering with the European Tour to do such a great thing as the Rolex Series. I'm excited for it and excited that it counts more towards the Ryder Cup because then it's easier for us to play both tours. Those events serve as a highlight for the year.

“It's my first Ryder Cup year and I'm really excited to hopefully be on the team, I'm going to work hard to try and get on the team and I can't wait to hopefully bring the cup back home to Europe.”

Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.europeantour.com/ticketsand beginning at €20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing €32 and day tickets for the weekend costing €34 each. An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs €110.

Concessions are available for spectators aged over 60 and between 14 and 17, while children up to 13 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

Official Hospitality tickets are also available on the ticketing page, or alternatively contact the European Tour's dedicated Hospitality Sales Team, who will be happy to answer any queries and discuss the various hospitality options, on hospitality@europeantour.com or +44 (0) 1344 840681.

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