Instead, tune in or DVR the European Tour coverage on Golf Channel (9 a.m. EDT Thursday/Friday; 8:30 a.m. Saturday/Sunday). The tournament is the Irish Open, and the venue is the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush -- one of the most challenging and entertaining links on the planet.
The field includes McIlroy -- who opted to support his home championship rather than return to the scene of his 8-shot U.S. Open victory -- and nine other major winners, including Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and John Daly.
A fat European Tour payday and Race to Dubai points aren't the only things at stake at the Irish Open. This is Northern Ireland's audition for a reprise of the British Open Championship, last held there 61 years ago.
On the heels of U.S. Open victories by McDowell and McIlroy, and Darren Clarke's improbable British Open win last year -- all three are from Northern Ireland -- there's been a great clamor for golf's oldest major to return to the Emerald Isle.
Royal Portrush is the leading candidate to play host. No one disputes it would present a worthy challenge to the world's best golfers, but the R&A, which runs the championship, is unconvinced that there's enough hotel space nearby or the infrastructure in place to accommodate corporate hospitality, the on-site "tented village" retail area, and vehicular traffic.
That's the official line. Yet Royal St. George's, the 2011 Open venue in rural eastern England, was equally lacking of infrastructure and access. It did just fine.
The real impediment for Portrush is the history of political violence in Northern Ireland, which flared as recently as last July, despite a drawn out peace process that produced the Belfast Agreement of 1998 and the Provisional Irish Republican Army decommissioning its arsenal in 2005. Royal Portrush is about 60 miles northwest of Belfast, in County Antrim.
The Open Championship has been scheduled through 2016. This year's venue is Royal Lytham and St. Annes (England), followed by Muirfield (Scotland), Royal Liverpool (England), St. Andrews (Scotland) and Royal Troon (Scotland). If Portrush proves it can handle the massive crowds expected for the Irish Open, the R&A will face even more pressure to bring the Dunluce Course back into the "rota" of British Open sites.
Meanwhile, contestants in this year's Irish Open must contend with a diabolical links and dodgy weather. The forecast for Portrush calls for wind as strong as 19 mph, rain every day, and steadily falling temperatures after a high of 63 on Thursday.
There's been a golf club at Portrush since 1888, and the Dunluce Course, designed by renowned architect Harry S. Colt, came into being in 1929. Bernard Darwin, the most heralded golf writer of the 20th century, penned one of his most prescient lines in an assessment of Portrush, saying Colt had "built himself a monument more enduring than brass." Indeed, Colt's layout is essentially intact, except for the 1st and 18th holes, which fell victim to erosion in the mid-1940s, prompting a reconfiguration of the course and new 8th and 9th holes built further inland among the dunes. The North Atlantic continues to pummel Royal Portrush, leaving the 5th green and 6th tee particularly vulnerable.
It would be a huge loss to golf should the 5th green ever succumb. Looking out from the elevated tee, the golfer sees not only a 411-yard par-4 that doglegs right toward the ocean, but also the remains of the 13th century Dunluce Castle. Just as memorable is the 210-yard 14th, where the tee shot to a small green must carry a chasm of no return -- thus earning this daunting par-3 hole the sobriquet of "Calamity Corner."
Max Faulkner of England won the '51 British Open at Portrush, shooting 71-70-70-74-285 to beat Antonio Cerda of Argentina by three shots. Before 1966, the Open was played over three days, with 36 holes on the last. The luck of the draw favored Faulkner in Round Two; he played early in the morning, avoiding the howling wind and rain that took a toll on many of his rivals. This also was an era when few Americans took the trouble to play overseas. There were only three Yanks in the field of 98, including the low amateur, Frank Stranahan, who tied for 12th.
Royal Portrush has a long history of championship golf, including the inaugural Irish Open Amateur in 1892 (on the Dunluce predecessor); eight British Ladies' Championships; the Irish Open in 1930, '37 and '47; the 1993 British Amateur; and six British Senior Opens, the last in 2004.
If you're a golf aficionado who appreciates the links game, check out the Irish Open. You'll be rewarded with a far more engaging contest at Portrush than the typical PGA Tour target practice at Congressional.
Dave Seanor is an award-winning golf writer who has covered the game for more than 20 years, including 13 years as Editor of Golfweek magazine. He'll be attending his 13th British Open in July.
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- British Open