The 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation came to an exciting end in the wonderful setting of Portstewart Golf Club on Sunday evening as Spanish player Jon Rahm emerged as the winner after four pulsating days of action with an Irish Open record final total of -24.
It was Dubai Duty Free’s third year as the title sponsor of one of the European Tour’s premier events, and a crowd of over 20,000 flocked to the scenic links course to witness a brilliant finish to the competition. In total 92,534 people came to the tournament during the week in order to see some of European Tour’s top players battle it out for Dubai Duty Free Irish Open glory. Tickets for the 18th grandstand at Portstewart sold out well in advance of this year’s tournament, exemplifying the anticipation of what was to come.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free congratulated Jon Rahm and said, “The golf course here at Portstewart provided an absolutely stunning backdrop and plenty of challenges to the competitors, which really added to the sense of occasion around the week. This has become such an important event due to the fact that it is one of just eight tournaments on the Rolex Series, meaning that it has a substantial prize fund of over US$7 million this year. The tournament has developed and grown since the Rory Foundation became involved and we took over the title sponsorship three years ago and it is now one of the European Tour’s most important events.”
Sunday brought the curtain down on what was another lively week of events at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, and one of the highlights of the week was the magnificent Dubai Duty Free Arabian Night’s Party that was held in the spa garden of The Galgorm Resort & Spa. Over 150 people attended the party at the luxurious Ballymena venue which was hosted by Colm McLoughlin and his wife Breeda including golfers Bradley Dredge, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tommy Fleetwood, Ryder Cup Vice Captain Robert Karlsson, Gavin Moynihan, Paul McGinley and Irish rugby legend, Rob Kearney. The theme of the night was ‘fire and water’, as the Maine river provided the perfect backdrop to purpose built teepees where guests enjoyed an Arabian themed BBQ. Entertainment on the night included fire breathers, drummers and music by James Huish. Guests were greeted with a drinks reception as they arrived before being walked through to the Arabian dress corner where the ladies were provided with beautiful authentic Arabian dresses to immerse themselves in the occasion. There was also a birds of prey display and guests were offered the opportunity to hold some of the rare birds and be photographed with them.
It was also announced on Sunday that the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be played in Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal, one of Ireland’s most iconic courses. Colm McLoughlin said of the venue “The setting is spectacular, it is home to two of Ireland’s best links courses and we know that the international visitors who will come to Donegal will really enjoy the scenery and the dramatic landscape.”
Popular tourist destinations in the local area have benefited from the lure of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, and sights such as the Giant’s Causeway, The Titanic Centre, the Bushmills Distillery and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge have all attracted more visitors than usual during the four-day event.
Dubai Duty Free is involved in several other major sporting events around the world including The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby 7’s.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation, brings with it the allure of success created by a business that has quickly elevated itself to one of the most successful in the world. From first-year sales of US$20 million upon its foundation in 1983, the company recorded a turnover of US$1.85 billion last year, making Dubai Duty Free the No.1 single airport retail operation in the world in terms of turnover. On average there are a massive 74,000 transactions recorded per day, across Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International in Dubai South.
Dubai Duty Free employ over 6,000 people and the operation has consistently raised the benchmark for airport retailing and it continues to grow. Dubai Duty Free currently occupies 34,000 square metres of retail space at Dubai International Airport, including the recently opened Concourse D. The new Concourse is a modern, state-of-the-art airside facility that can serve up to 100 international airlines and 18 million passengers annually and is reached via an elevated rail system. Concourse D takes Dubai Duty Free to an all new level, with a bright and spacious customer friendly retail space centrally located close to a range of restaurants and the departure gates.