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Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

McIlroy/Harrington clash at Erne

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy has shot into the top 20 rankings in the world

Rory McIlroy will take on Open Champion Padraig Harrington in an 18 holes strokeplay match at the new Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh on 22 July.

The match will have a prize fund of just over £200,000 and organisers say that 4,000 tickets will be available for the event.

The event will take place at the height of the golf season - three days after the conclusion of The Open.

McIlroy, who is attached to the Lough Erne Resort, is in the world's top 20.

Lough Erne owner Jim Treacy said it was important that the new Nick Faldo-designed course's qualities be tested by the world's best.

Mr Treacy added that he was hoping that the Lough Erne Challenge would become an annual event.

"The fact that two of the most important and exciting figures in world golf are Irish and both are in the world's top 20 made it compelling to pit them against each other in this special event," added the resort owner.

McIlroy, who attended Tuesday's event launch, said that "the opportunity to play against Padraig on what is in some ways my home turf is exciting".

I hope the North's golf fans will come out to see myself and Rory compete on the shores of the Lough
Padraig Harrington

"Padraig is a fantastic player - a real role model for someone like me starting out on my career," said the 19-year-old.

"Jim Treacy has been a real support to me and I have watched the development of the Championship course at Lough Erne with great interest."

Harrington joined the press conference live by satellite link from Bay Hill, Orlando where he is preparing for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"I don't know the Enniskillen area at all and have not yet seen the Lough Erne Golf Resort I am assured by those who have that it will be a wonderful addition to Ireland's golfing infrastructure," said Harrington.

"It is good to be promoting this part of the island through the establishment of this event and I hope the north's golf fans will come out to see myself and Rory compete on the shores of the Lough."

The event will be filmed by European Tour Productions with delayed broadcast commitments already established in at least 13 countries including, Britain, the United States, South Africa and Germany.

The players will be playing for a specially commissioned Belleek Trophy.

McIlroy heads back to the US on Saturday ahead of his challenge at next month's Masters.

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see also
Golfing sensation home after win
04 Feb 09 |  Northern Ireland

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