European Tour Notebook: Irish Open offers chance to play with McIlroy

rory mcilroy
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Fans buying tickets to the Irish Open have a chance to end up playing in the pro-am with Rory McIlroy.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Friday, June 24, 2011 | 5:33 p.m.

A chance to play alongside new U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy is being offered to fans buying tickets for next month's Irish Open in Killarney.

Names will be entered into a competition offering a place in the 22-year-old's team for the pre-tournament pro-am, plus a two-night stay in a four-star hotel.

"Hopefully people will like the idea of taking me on. I might even give them a couple of shots," McIlroy said. "The Irish Open is very high on the list of tournaments that I would like to win in my career one day.

"I think every golfer has a special place in his or her heart for their national Open and I am no different,” he added. "To win in front of a home crowd is something we don't get the chance to do that often, so I'd love to win the title."

FUND RAISING: More than $1 million has been donated to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation after a series of fundraising activities at the Wentworth Club in honor of the late Spanish golfer.

A pro-am last month featuring a field of 24 leading golfers, including Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal, was held at the European Tour’s headquarters, while there also was an auction and donations from the public.

The European Tour said the money will go directly to Ballesteros’ foundation in partnership with Cancer Research UK.

Ballesteros died on May 7 from brain cancer.

“Seve would have been very proud to see the support that his charity received,” said nephew Ivan Ballesteros.

OLAZABAL AIMS TO QUALIFY: European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal will be among the 288 players taking part next week in final qualifying for the British Open.

The 45-year-old Spaniard finished third at the British Open in 1992 and 2005 and is a two-time winner of the Masters. He will play 36 holes at Littlestone on Tuesday in a bid to claim one of the 12 qualification places.

Other high-profile players qualifying across four courses near the Open venue at Royal St. George’s are 2005 U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell of New Zealand, former English Ryder Cup player Peter Baker, and two Swedish former Ryder Cup players, Joakim Haeggman and Jarmo Sandelin.

The other courses to be used are Royal Cinque Ports, Prince's and Rye.

Olazabal's competition at Littlestone includes his former Ryder Cup team-mates Peter Baker and Joakim Haeggman, while among Campbell's 71 rivals at Prince's is South African Hennie Otto, first round leader when The Open was last at Royal St George's in 2003.

Most of the players taking part are those who came through regional qualifying on Monday.