Beef, Pieters and Poulter set for Portstewart

Andrew "Beef" Johnston. Picture: Getty Images

Andrew “Beef” Johnston. Picture: Getty Images

Ryder Cup stars Thomas Pieters and Ian Poulter have been confirmed in the star-studded field for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, along with fan favourite Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston.

As the third Rolex Series event of the 2017 Race to Dubai, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will feature a record US$7 million prize fund

World Number 26 Pieters of Belgium made a huge impression on his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine National last year despite Europe’s defeat, while Poulter has become one of the greats of the modern Ryder Cup era.

Johnston, meanwhile, rose to fame last year winning the Open de España at Real Clube Valderrama and has since become one of the biggest crowd-pleasers in the game thanks to his sense of humour and unassuming demeanour.

Tournament host Rory McIlroy will return home to defend the title he claimed in such swashbuckling style last year, while World Number Two Hideki Matsuyama will make his regular European Tour debut having finished joint runner-up at last week’s U.S. Open Championship.

Fans will also have the opportunity to see rising Spanish prodigy Jon Rahm for the first time while Olympic Gold Medal winner Justin Rose will play the event for the first time in seven years.

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. Picture: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters. Picture: Getty Images

Tommy Fleetwood, who finished in outright fourth place at Erin Hills last week and currently sits in second position on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex, is another one of those already announced for the 90th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

A number of his fellow English luminaries, including World Number 20 Tyrrell Hatton, 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett and Ryder Cup legend Lee Westwood, will also take on the spectacular Portstewart links.

Home-grown Major winners Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell will return for their national championship as will Shane Lowry, who won this tournament as an amateur in 2009, and rising star Paul Dunne.

Jamie Donaldson and Søren Kjeldsen, both of whom won this event on Northern Irish soil in 2012 and 2015 respectively, will return hoping to repeat their successes, while English trio Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood complete the compliment of 2016 Ryder Cup players in the field alongside World Number 32 Rafa Cabrera Bello, McIlroy, Pieters, Rose, Westwood and Willett.

Ian Poulter. Picture: Getty Images

Ian Poulter. Picture: Getty Images

Of the remarkable field gathering for the third of eight Rolex Series events, McIlroy said: “This is certainly one of the strongest fields I’ve ever seen for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, if not the strongest. It’s really shaping up for an incredible week.

“Everybody knows how special this tournament is to me, and to return to Northern Ireland as defending champion, with my Foundation again hosting the event, is real honour.”

Tickets are on sale at http://ift.tt/1Mso0Fy, starting  at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.

An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers six days of world class golf from Tuesday to Sunday, costs just £100 (a saving of £105 over the course of the five days).

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Irish Open invitations for Hoey, Moynihan and McElroy

Gavin Moynihan is congratulated Dermot McElroy after his win on the Europro Tour earlier this year

Gavin Moynihan is congratulated Dermot McElroy after his win on the Europro Tour earlier this year

Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey and Team Ireland grant recipients Dermot McElroy and Gavin Moynihan have been award invitations for next month’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart.

Former BMW PGA winner Simon Khan has also been given a golden ticket for the $7 m event from Category 6A (Professional Invitations) but it remains to be seen if further Team Ireland players will hear good news with two invitations remaining.

There are no amateurs in the field this year (Category 6B – Amateur Invitations) as it is a Rolex Series event with strict criteria and pressure on places.

The GUI would have been unable to send any of its preferred top six players as they will be travelling to the European Amateur Team Championships in Austria during the Irish Open.

However, it appears that there will be no amateur presence (6B) in the event from 2018 and the CGI (GUI, ILGUI and the PGA) will be keen to push the case of Team Ireland players with our amateurs likely to be offered spots, on request, in non-Rolex Series events instead.

The entry criteria for the Irish Open makes no provision for amateurs unless they are included among the six invitations:

ELIGIBILITY:
a) Players in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of Monday 10th April 2017
b) Players in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings as of Monday 12th June 2017
c) 6 professionals from within the top 25 of the Final 2016 Irish Order of Merit.  
d) The balance of the field will be completed in accordance with the 2017 European Tour Exemption Category List excluding Categories 6 & 8.
e) 6 tournament invitations   

NB. The top 10 Regulation applies from the HNA Open de France into this tournament.

Ballymena’s McElroy, 24, currently leads the Europro Tour Order of Merit while Dubliner Moynihan, 22, who has won on the Europro Tour this year (edging out McElroy), reached the final of the Challenge Tour’s Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 last month and lies 11th in the Road to Oman standings.

Ireland’s two leading male Team Ireland grant recipients, Gary Hurley and Chris Selfridge, will be anxiously waiting for news over the coming days.

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Harrington and McIlroy seeking momentum in Connecticut

Pádraig Harrington speaks to reporters after his opening 66

Pádraig Harrington speaks to reporters after his opening 66

Pádraig Harrington’s short game and putting save him as he returned from his freak elbow injury with a four-under 66 in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.

But Rory McIlroy revealed that the new TaylorMade Red Spider putter he put in the bag for the US Open had been put on notice after he missed five putts inside 10 feet and was forced to settle for a three-under 67.

As Jordan Spieth finally saw some form on the greens this year,  making eight birdies in a seven-under 63 for a one-stroke lead over Johnson Wagner and Brett Stegmaier, McIlroy was less that happy with a three-under-par effort that required 30 putts.

“I come off the golf course a little disappointed with a 67 because I gave myself so many chances,” McIlroy said after making four birdies with his lone bogey a three-putt from 10 feet on his ninth hole at a course that is 1,000 shorter than Erin Hills

“Tee to green game is where it needs to be… It’s just a matter of converting the chances I’m giving myself.

“I shot three-under today, but it could have been a whole lot better. So I’m looking forward to getting after it again tomorrow and over the weekend.

“I hit some good putts. I think I hit the hole five or six times. A few of those go in, it’s a different story, and all of a sudden you’re shooting something in the low 60s and you’re feeling really good about yourself. 

“Just have to stay patient and keep trying to hit good putts, and hopefully they will drop.”

Searching for momentum after playing just seven events this year, McIlroy is hoping a run of six events in eight weeks will give him the game time to get back to where he believes he belongs.

But he is also prepared to be patient and wait for his game to “catch fire.”

“You can’t force it,” he said. “I’ve tried to force it in the past, and it doesn’t work. You never know when your game is going to catch fire. 

“You work away, work on the stuff you need to, and sometimes it happens earlier than you think, and sometimes it happens a little later.

“Even last year, I caught fire at the end of the season and won a couple of events in the playoffs and all of a sudden won the FedEx Cup. 

“It’s just about staying patient and knowing that if you are doing the right things off the golf course, hopefully, it will all come together sooner rather than later.”

His patience level may depend on how his putter behaves for the next few days.

“I made a decision this week, I’d give it one more week and see how it performed,” McIlroy said. “But it’s nothing to do with the putter, it’s mostly what I’m doing with it.”

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Harrington is also looking forward to getting a run of golf after a stop-start season that began four missed cuts out of five before he bit the bullet and had surgery to carry out a disc replacement that allow decompression of a trapped nerve between the C6 and C7 joints.

It meant 12 weeks on the sidelines and after returning for the BMW PGA, US Open qualifying and the Memorial, he was then forced to take another 10 days off to recover from a fluke injury he sustained when an amateur hit him on the left elbow during a sponsor’s day and inflicted a wound that required six stitches.

“That’s twice this year,” said Harrington, who has missed five of seven cuts this year. “I’m hoping it doesn’t come in threes.”

Harrington made four birdies but admitted that after scrambling eight times out of eight for par, he’s struggling for sharpness due to lack of tournament play.

“I haven’t played,” Harrington said. “I’ve played 21 games of golf this year, and I am not trusting my lines at times off the tee and not picking the right shot or trusting the right shot. 

“As I play a bit more, I am getting to trust it and hopefully the short game stays as strong.  

“I had 13 straight one-putts to start in the Pro-Am, so I am happy I followed up today. It doesn’t normally work out like that.”

Set to play the Irish Open and the Scottish Open before The Open, he said: “It’s been a bit of a struggle just getting momentum. … There’s no substitute for being on the golf course.

“While it hasn’t been a great year. I’ll be happy if I’m ready for the Open.”

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British Amateur: McBride makes quarters, epic Rafferty falls at 25th

Paul McBride in an archive image for Wake Forest

Paul McBride in an archive image for Wake Forest

The Island’s Paul McBride carries Irish hopes into the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship for the second year running after he ousted English favourite Jack Singh Brar on the 18th at Royal St George’s

On a day when Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty fell at the 25th and Stuart Grehan at the 18th in the last 32, the Wake Forest star beat American Jimmy Stanger before defeating Singh Brar at the 18th on a day of electric golf and weather at the Kent links

Against Singh Brar, McBride was three up after four holes but was forced to hole a clutch six-footer for par on the 18th to finally put the Lytham Trophy winner to the sword.

It was another tough day for the Irish at Sandwich which saw Dundalk’s Rafferty, the leading qualifier, finally beaten at the 25th after an epic third round tussle with Argentina’s world No 24 Alejandro Tosti and Stuart Grehan also beaten at the death.

Playing the kind of golf that must surely make him a shoe in for an international call-up this year, Rafferty was denied victory in regulation when Tosti reduced the 448-yard 18th to a three-wood, a nine-iron and a three-foot putt he later described as the shot of his life.

Scores

It turned out to be an enthralling heavyweight contest and even featured a two-hour stoppage for thunder and lightning, forcing the protagonists to shelter with one of the neighbours and a Sky Sports TV crew.

When they resumed hostilities, it was the Argentinian who advanced with a birdie at the par-five seventh.

After finding the green in two, he looked on and saw Rafferty’s pitch hit the hole and lip out for eagle. 

But after Tosti two-putted from long range for his four, Rafferty lipped out from around four feet for the half and bowed out to an ecastatic Tosi, who was thrilled to pull off the win having been forced to make that crucial birdie at the 18th to force extra holes.

Caolan Rafferty. Picture: Tony McLean/T. McLean Photography

Caolan Rafferty. Picture: Tony McLean/T. McLean Photography

Tosti then crushed England’s Charlie Strickland, who earlier disposed of young Australian prospect Min Woo Lee by one hole, by 4 and 3 in in the delayed fourth round.

Tullamore’s Grehan was beaten by one hole by Scotland’s Ryan Lumsden in a tight affair in the third round which left 21-year old McBride as Ireland’s great hope.

A losing semi-finalist last year, the world No 66 beat American world No 11, the University of Virginia’s Jimmy Stanger, by two holes before crushing the dream of Lytham Trophy winner Singh Brar with another gritty performance in the evening, 

McBride won the first in par and the second and fourth with birdies to go three up.

But Singh Brar fought back, winning the sixth and 10th with birdies to reduce the gap to just one hole.

Four of the next five holes were exchanged to leave McBride still one up playing the last and he duly closed out the match with an excellent four and must now be considered a likely Walker Cup candidate alongside Grehan.

McBride now faces England’s Harry Ellis in the quarter-finals as Tosti takes on European Amateur champion Stefano Mazzoli.

Australia’s Dylan Perry takes on Norway’s Jarle Kaldestad Volden for the right to meet Tosti or Mazzoli while McBride will he hoping to go through to meet the winner between Italy’ Luca Cianchetti or Sweden’s Fredrik Niléhn in Friday afternoon’s semi-finals.

The 36 hole final takes place on Saturday with the winner, should he remain amateur, guaranteed a place in next month’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills as well as the traditional invitation to the Masters Tournament.

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SPIED: Tesla Model 3 interior has similar minimalism to BMW i3

We just recently discussed the fact that the BMW i3 has one of the coolest interiors on the market, if not the very coolest. Reason being is that it’s so completely different from anything else on the road. Its minimalism is taken to an entirely different level than anything else and it has so much negative space and funky architecture that it really stands out from the crowd. It’s not just us that feels that way, though, as many enthusiasts are fond of the i3’s cabin for those very reasons. However, one of the BMW i3’s most important new competitors is also very minimalist inside and it’s just been caught showing off its interior — the Tesla Model 3.

The Tesla Model 3 is easily one of the most hotly anticipated cars of this year. It’s Tesla’s entry-level car and the one that sold about a bajillion pre-orders in eleven seconds, or something like that. Basically, the Model 3 is every EV fan’s savior. So the fact that its interior is now seen in the flesh is a big deal because, up until recently, most fans hadn’t seen the Model 3 in any way, shape or form.

Inside the Tesla Model 3, the design is very, very minimalist. The dash is just a plain dashboard, though it does house some nice wood trim (eucalyptus?). The steering wheel is just a steering wheel and the door panels are just door panels. In fact, it almost seems as if Tesla took minimalism too far. Until you notice that tiny, little detail that is the monstrous touch screen that cantilevers off the dash.

To be honest, the interior of the Model 3 is really just a massive touchscreen with some seats next to it. It’s as if Tesla designed the screen first and then the rest around it. Though, I have to say that the mammoth screen looks like it will work well there. It’s right in the line of sight of the driver, so they won’t really have to look up or down from the road much at all. And it’s so large and in-your-face and it will likely be easy to use while on the move. Plus, Tesla has a reputation for making excellent touchscreens, so we’re confident it will be easy to use and intuitive.

Personally, I still like the BMW i3’s cabin more, just because it’s more visually interesting. Aside from the massive screen, this Model 3 could be the cabin from a Honda Accord and no one would second guess it. It looks nice and of high quality but it’s minimalism to the point of being boring, whereas the i3 looks like it’s from the year 2030. Now, if BMW could steal Tesla’s big screen and somehow implement that into the i3, then we’d have the real winner.

[Photo Source: Chris Llana]

The article SPIED: Tesla Model 3 interior has similar minimalism to BMW i3 appeared first on BMW BLOG

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Jaguar E-Pace to compete with BMW X3

When Jaguar first launched the F-Pace SUV, the world curiously waited to see how it would be. It was the first ever SUV from the famed British brand, a brand most known for fast and luxurious sedans and coupes. So most enthusiasts were skeptical about how it would drive. Turns out, it’s damn good and won some Car of the Year awards. So now the famous British brand is trying to continue that success with a new BMW X3-fighter — the Jaguar E-Pace.

Following its letter-based naming designation, the E-Pace will be the smallest Jaguar SUV, much like the XE is the smallest sedan. The F-Pace is the middle SUV, much like the XF sedan, and there could be a J-Pace in the future to round out the lineup.

Jaguar recently teased the upcoming E-Pace with a picture of it, alongside the F-Pace and i-Pace plug-in hybrid SUV, on Twitter. Judging from the photo on Jaguar’s Twitter, the E-Pace just looks like a F-Pace that’s been put in a vice, front-to-back. It’s essentially just a squished F-Pace.

It doesn’t look bad in profile, though, if a bit stubby. Which is actually kind of a shame, as the F-Pace is downright pretty. So the fact that the E-Pace looks a bit lazily done is a bit disappointing.

Under the hood of the Jaguar E-Pace will be the brand’s assortment of turbocharged four-cylinder diesels and petrols and it will come with all-wheel drive. It will likely also only come with the brand’s eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, with maybe a manual available in the UK.

While the F-Pace competes with the BMW X5, even if it’s a bit smaller, the Jaguar E-Pace will be more of a BMW X3-fighter. It’s a good thing BMW is coming out with its new X3 quite soon, as it’s getting a bit old and a new competitor would really twist the knife.

Considering that the new X3 is on its way, the E-Pace won’t have too much of an edge in terms of design. Where the Jaguar E-Pace might excel is in its handling. BMW’s SUVs seem to be getting more and more relaxed and more focused on comfort and practicality, rather than dynamics. Jaguar’s F-Pace is properly exciting to drive for an SUV and damn good for any car. So we’re expecting the E-Pace to bring the goods as well. The BMW X3 should be more dynamic than the current-gen model, or at least we hope, so this could be a very interesting duel when both cars finally come out.

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Caldwell six back in Oxfordshire; Le Blanc cut on debut

Jonny Caldwell. Picture: Europro Tour

Jonny Caldwell. Picture: Europro Tour

Jonny Caldwell shot a two under 71 to go into the final round six adrift of Chris Lloyd and James Ruth in the PDC Golf Championship at Studley Wood.

The Clandeboye man is tied for ninth on eight under par with Reeve Whitson as shot further back in 17th after a level par 73.

Brian McElhinney (73), Niall Kearney (70) and David Carey (68) share 32nd on five under but Dermot McElroy (145), Brian Casey (146), Declan Loftus and Stephen Grant Mount (150) and pro debutant  Kevin Le Blanc Unattached (159) missed the 143 cut.

The PDC Golf Championship, Studley Wood Golf Club (Par 73)

Detailed scores

T1 Chris Lloyd The Kendleshire 65 67 132
T1 James Ruth China Fleet Country Club 68 64 132

T9 Jonathan Caldwell Clandeboye Golf Club 67 71 138
T17 Reeve Whitson Royal County Down Golf Club 66 73 139
T32 Brian McElhinney North West Golf Club 68 73 141
T32 Niall Kearney The Royal Dublin 71 70 141
T32 David Carey Unattached 73 68 141 

CUT

MC Dermot McElroy Ballymena Golf Club 74 71 145
MC Brian Casey BLACKSTAR 72 74 146
MC Declan Loftus Unattached 72 78 150
MC Stephen Grant Mount Juliet 75 75 150
MC Kevin Le Blanc Unattached 76 83 159 

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