Pyramid of Mideast golf: McIlroy, Egypt & Challenge Tour

Rory McIlroy during the pro-am prior to the start of the Dubai World Championship.

Rory McIlroy during the pro-am prior to the start of the Dubai World Championship.

CAIRO, Egypt – Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland will headline the 2010 Egyptian Open, a new European Challenge Tour event that aims to showcase Egypt to the golf world.

This year has been something of a coming-out party for the 21-year-old, who ranks No. 7 in the world after tying for third at the British Open. In May, he become the youngest PGA Tour winner since Tiger Woods when he recorded a 62 in the final round to take the Quail Hollow Championship.

In Cairo, McIlroy will join about 80 players from the European Challenge Tour on Oct. 20-23 at Marriott’s Mirage City Golf Club. A selection of regional invites and qualifiers also will make up the field. In 2009, the event – while not part of the official European Challenge Tour calendar at the time – attracted an impressive field complemented by a guest appearance by European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

For McIlroy, it will mean a short break from the European Tour – just weeks after his expected debut in the Ryder Cup and a month before the end of the Race To Dubai.

“I’m very excited about the chance of playing in Egypt for the first time,” McIlroy said. “It’s not a country you would think about as a home for golf, but I have heard about the courses there, the history of the Egyptian Open and the developments that are coming online. I can’t wait to see it for myself.”

Although it will be McIlroy’s first playing appearance in Egypt, he is no stranger to the region, having picked up his first European Tour title at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 before finishing the year as runner-up at the inaugural Dubai World Championship.

“To have one of the world’s best players agree to join us for the 2010 tournament is a wonderful bonus after achieving full European Challenge Tour status,” said Ayman Hussein, chairman of the Egyptian Golf Federation.

“Having Rory McIlroy with us will help focus attention on Egypt, a country we firmly believe has a bright golfing future to match its reputation as the original home of the game in the Middle East.”

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