Graeme McDowell says home players will back Irish Open

Graeme McDowell has insisted that Ireland's top players will support the Irish Open despite having its prize fund slashed by 50% this year.

Speaking on a visit to the Northern Ireland EuroPro Open at Galgorm Castle, McDowell described the Irish Open prize fund as "irrelevant".

"It's still the Irish Open. We're going to support it 100%," said McDowell.

"Ireland is having a tough time financially. We understand it. We'll be patient and be there supporting it."

McDowell added:"It's one of the classy tournaments on the European Tour and we don't want to lose it."

Last year's US Open winner has been preparing for his upcoming Open Championship challenge at Royal St Georges by playing links golf at his home club Royal Portrush this week.

He will also have a round at Royal County Down on Saturday before tackling the Open venue Sandwich on Monday.

McDowell will experience further links golf at next week's Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

The Scottish event moves from Loch Lomond to the links course near Inverness and McDowell believes the new venue will be beneficial for his Open build-up.

"Loch Lomond was a great venue but it was a little different from links golf," added the 2008 Scottish Open winner.

"I've been playing at Portrush this week and am going to (Royal) County Down on Saturday. I feel like I'm playing well enough to compete right now."

McDowell also took time to pay tribute to the organisers of the EuroPro event at Galgorm.

"This event is a great training event for the stars of the future.

"It's very difficult to jump straight on to the European Tour. Guys have to toughen themselves up and learn their trade.

"It's a great event for Galgorm Castle which is a course I played when I was a young boy.

"It's a great location and they have great sponsors on board."

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