Rory McIlroy: World number one ready for Irish Open workload

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Rory McIlroy is confident that his off-course commitments at this week's Irish Open will not hinder his challenge at Royal County Down.

Rory McIlroy is confident that his off-course commitments at this week's Irish Open will not hinder his challenge at Royal County Down.

McIlroy's charitable foundation is the official tournament host and he is certain to have a busy week.

"There are a lot of obligations but that shouldn't get in the way of me going out there and playing good golf," McIlroy told BBC Sport.

The world number one's best Irish Open finish was a seventh spot in 2008.

That was his first Irish Open appearance as a professional and since then his best was a 34th spot in 2011 with him missing the cut at Carton House and Fota Island over the last two years.

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Rickie Fowler says he is happy to be back at one of his favourites courses for the Irish Open.

McIlroy, 26, is determined to produce a better showing this year despite his off-course obligations.

"I haven't really played well in the Irish Open and that's something that hasn't sat well with me for a few years," added the Northern Irishman, who surprisingly missed the cut at last week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

"I think it's to do with maybe trying too hard when you get back home and you maybe push yourself too much.

"I am just going to try and enjoy myself this year and relish the opportunity to play at home.

"I feel like I have found a nice balance between what I am doing on the course and what I am doing off the course, and even in weeks like this where you go to evening functions and try to help as much as you can to put on a great event."

McIlroy's involvement in this week's tournament has led to big names Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Ernie Els signing up for the event.

And the world number one will play alongside recent Players Championship winner Fowler and US Open champion Kaymer over the opening two rounds.

Top Irish Open Thursday tee-times
07:40 BST: Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Danny Willett
07:50: Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez
08:00: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer
12:40: Sergio Garcia, Mikko Ilonen, Padraig Harrington
13:00: Ernie Els, Francesco Molinari, Shane Lowry

The leading three ball will tee off at 08:00 BST on Thursday morning with Garcia playing alongside Padraig Harrington and defending champion Mikko Ilonen at 12:50.

"With the players coming to play Royal County Down, it's going to be a great week and I just hope I can put on a good performance for all the fans back home," added McIlroy.

"I haven't been as excited for a golf tournament this year, apart from the Masters for obvious reasons.

"Royal County Down is probably rated as one of the top five golf courses in the world."

McIlroy's early Wentworth exit came a week after his Wells Fargo Championship win on the PGA Tour which was his third victory of 2015 after his earlier Dubai Desert Classic and WGC Match Play triumphs.

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