Open will return to Royal Portrush

Published Monday, 16 June 2014
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Royal Portrush Golf Club has been invited to join the rota to host the Open Championship, with the major possibly set to return to the course as early as 2019.

The news was confirmed by Northern Ireland's First and deputy First Ministers following a meeting with golf's governing body, the R&A.

The Open was last played at Royal Portrush back in 1951.

"The decision to bring the Open back to Northern Ireland is a tremendous vote of confidence in the game here and follows the huge success of the Irish Open in 2012 - the first in European Tour history to sell out," DUP First Minister Peter Robinson said.

"Today's announcement recognises that Northern Ireland not only has some of the world's greatest golfers, but some of the world's greatest golf courses."

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "This announcement will create much anticipation and excitement as the thought of our local golfers challenging for the Claret Jug on home soil is set to become a reality.

"The success of our local golfers has played a significant role in putting us on the international golfing map as an established destination and hosting the Open will add to this."

It is estimated that hosting the prestigious tournament will boost the economy by £70m.

DUP Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster recognised that there was a lot of work to be done ahead of staging the Open in Portrush, but insisted that organisers would "pull out all the stops".

She added: "Northern Ireland will stage a world class event that will be long remembered by players and spectators alike."

It's been more than 60 years since the Open was played here and it's been too long and we are very, very excited about coming back.

Peter Dawson R&A chief executive

According to R&A chief executive Peter Dawson, while 2019 is the earliest the Open could return to Portrush, it may take much longer as planning permission is still being sought for course alterations.

However, the organisers envisage the course hosting the tournament on a regular basis in the future.

Mr Dawson said: "On behalf of the R&A I am absolutely delighted to confirm that we have invited Royal Portrush Golf Club to again become a host venue for the Open Championship.

"We couldn't be more excited about bringing the Open back here to one of the world's truly great links courses and we have every confidence that Royal Portrush will prove to be an excellent venue in absolutely every way.

"Golf enjoys passionate support in Northern Ireland and indeed throughout Ireland and we expect there will be huge interest in the championship from the many thousands of golf fans here."

Mr Dawson said there was much work ahead to make the course tournament ready.

He added: "There are planned course enhancements and infrastructure development which will require ratification by the club's members and by the planning authorities and so we will not be able to announce a date for the first event until these permissions are in place.

"2019 is the earliest it can be but it maybe that we have to wait a year or two longer than that.

"This a wonderful golf course which will challenge the world's top golfers."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Peter Hughes in Burnham, Bucks, wrote (230 days ago):
Hopefully the "wee man" who initally put Portrush on the map is not forgotten. He was born in the town in 1911, is buried in a small churchyard overlooking the 18th fairway where he caddied as a schoolboy and in 1947 was the first Irishman to win the Open Championship. I am proud to have played a small part in having Fred Daly's name on a blue plaque placed on his birthplace in Dunluce Street.
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