It will be played on a course familiar to both: Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, which hosted the 2007 Walker Cup when a star-studded U.S. squad that included Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk beat McIlroy's team from Great Britain & Ireland, 12 1/2 to 11 1/2.
Fowler and McIlroy went toe to toe at the Open Championship and PGA Championship this summer, which both ended in a McIlroy victory and a Fowler near-miss. The two were reunited at the Ryder Cup in September, when McIlroy again got the upper hand both in foursomes play and in their Sunday singles match, which he won 5 and 4.
"I am delighted that Rickie has decided to add the Irish Open to his schedule next year," McIlroy said. "Rickie’s performances in the majors and the Ryder Cup this year showed that he is not only one of the top players in the world, but also one of the most watchable. I know the Irish crowds will really take to him and enjoy seeing him in action next May."
After top-five finishes in each of the four majors this year, Fowler is up to No. 9 in the OWGR and looks forward to meeting McIlroy on a course where they first matched up as 18-year-old amateurs.
"When Rory told me the Irish Open was going to Royal County Down, I was really keen to play because of the special memories we have there, and also because it is such a great course," Fowler said. "It’s amazing what the players from that Walker Cup have gone on to achieve in the years since we played there, so I’m sure Rory and I will have plenty to reminisce about."