Gareth Maybin, Simon Thornton and Reeve Whitson are among seven players who have received invites into next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.
They will be joined in the field by Irish pair Peter Lawrie and Kevin Phelan, Englishman Ben Stow and American Jonathan Moore.
Both Whitson and Thornton will be hoping to put local knowledge to the test around the challenging Royal County Down links.
Former Spanish Amateur Champion Reeve is the son of long-standing RCD professional Kevan Whitson and has grown up playing RCD while Bradford-born Thornton moved to Newcastle in 1996 to work as an assistant professional at the club.
Meanwhile, the European Tour announced yesterday that this year’s tournament has sold out on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with only Thursday tickets now remaining for golf fans wanting to catch the world’s best golfers in action from May 28-31.
The last time the Irish Open was held in Northern Ireland was in 2012 when Royal Portrush became the first European Tour event to sell out in advance - and now it’s only a matter of time before this year’s eagerly anticipated tournament emulates that amazing feat.
“This year’s event has surpassed all of our initial expectations and much of it is down to the support of one man in particular… and that is the World number one Rory McIlroy.
“The star-studded field that Rory has managed to attract to Royal County Down and the personal drive and commitment that he has displayed to make this tournament the best that it can be has really been beyond amazing,” said Antonia Beggs, the European Tour’s Championship Director for the Irish Open.
“We cannot stress enough that, whilst we welcome visitors to Newcastle to enjoy the festivities that have been put in place around the event, it is very important that people don’t turn up at the gate without a ticket, as they won’t get in and they will only cause unnecessary delay and congestion at the entrance point.”
The last remaining tickets for Thursday and tickets for the Practice Day (Tuesday) and Pro Am (Wednesday) can be snapped up at www.irishopen.ie.