Fowler looking forward to Irish return

Newly crowned Players champion Rickie Fowler is set to go head-to-head with Rory McIlroy at the upcoming Irish Open.

McIlroy’s foundation is hosting the event at Royal County Down from May 28-31, and the World No 1 has been hard at work securing top names to come take part in the event.

Fowler will be joined by the likes of Ernie Els, Patrick Reed, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald, and is excited about the challenge ahead.

The tournament also provided the American with an opportunity to return to the scene of his 2007 Walker Cup triumph.

Fowler was just 18 when he played as a member of the victorious USA side.

“I am looking forward so much to getting back to Royal County Down as every time I get to talk to Rory, he’s talking about how strong the field is going to be for the Irish Open,” said Fowler.

“But to be heading to the tournament later this month now as the Players Champion is going to be extra special.

“I left Royal County Down eight years ago as a young golfer unsure of where my career was headed. I was 18 and unsure what future lay ahead of me.

“So to be returning to Northern Ireland is not only special given what we managed to achieve back in ’07 but to now have won the Players, and to have had the support heading into the play-off from guys like Billy Horschel, who was one of my Royal County Down team-mates, means the world to me.”