The Background

The shift is a massive change in fortunes for the event, won last year by Rory McIlroy. For years the event jumped between sponsors, each struggling to make a profit from the tournament – a sad decline for an event that has a proud history dating back to 1927.

A little more than 20 years ago the Irish Open saw a resurgence of another sort, with Sam Torrance on the comeback trail.

His 1993 Ryder Cup was ruined by injury and, in the autumn of his career, Torrance was determined that it would not be his swansong.

The Scene

When the Irish Open heads to Portstewart in Londonderry this year, it will feature as part of the European Tour’s seven-event Rolex Series.

Boosted by the influence of McIlroy, whose foundation hosts the event, the 2017 Irish Open is set to be the biggest since it became part of the European Tour circuit in 1975.

Thanks to its place in the Rolex Series, the prize fund has increased to £5.6 million.

The Moment

Held at Mount Juliet, Torrance was tied after 72 holes with Yorkshiremen Stuart Cage and Howard Clark.

He won the play-off on the 17th green to become the tournament’s oldest-ever winner.

“That was special,” he said. “At the age of 43, that was the best season of my career.”

The victory helped Torrance finish second on the European Tour Order of Merit, narrowly pipped by Colin Montgomerie.

He also forced his way back into the Ryder Cup picture and won three points as Europe regained the trophy at Oak Hill.