World number one Rory McIlroy says he is determined to add his name to the list of European greats that have won the Irish Open.
The Holywood star will tee off in Carton House in June hoping emulate some of the players who inspired him to play golf.
The US Open champion said: “The Irish Open for me is very special because it’s my home event. The history that the Irish Open has, such a great list of champions – Faldo to Seve, to Bernhard Langer, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington – so many European greats have won that tournament.
"That’s what makes it so special, the history.
“Padraig has talked a lot about when he won, how he felt and how proud he was of it, I’d love to [win it].”
"It’s tough sometimes, not to try too hard" - Rory McIlroy
McIlroy, 23, also said that playing in front of a home crowd adds an extra edge to the game.
“It’s tough to play in front of your home crowd sometimes,” he said. “It brings its own pressures. You want to do so well for them.
“They live and breathe every shot with you and when you make a bogey there’s a big ‘aahhh’ and when you make a birdie [there’s a cheer].
"It’s tough sometimes, not to try too hard. Hopefully, I’m just going to win not just one Irish Open, I’m going to win a few in my career.
“The fans are incredible, the support that I get from back home is unbelievable and the support that the Irish fans give in general.
"They are very knowledgeable golf fans. Portrush this year [had] record attendances. It’s just incredible to see so many people coming out to watch us play.
“I like Carton House, it was the first Irish Open I played, on the Montgomerie course there.
“I have great memories of Carton House from going down as part of Irish amateur squads. It’s a place I enjoy going back to.”
Tune into the RTÉ Sports Awards 2012 in association with the Irish Sports Council on Sunday 23 December at 9.30pm on RTÉ One for more from Greg Allen’s exclusive interview with Rory McIlroy.
The full interview will be broadcast in a special programme on RTÉ Two on Thursday 27 December at 9.00pm, and will be available worldwide on RTÉ.ie/sport from 9.30pm.