Royal Co Down set to host Irish Open

Irish Open 2015

Royal Co Down set to host Irish Open

The Irish Open looks set to return to Northern Ireland next year, with Royal Co Down the likely venue for the European Tour event.

It would mark the first time since 1939 that the tournament has been played on the links course in Newcastle.

At this stage, European Tour officials are refusing to officially confirm the decision - which would come just three years after the success of the Irish Open being hosted by Royal Portrush.

The 2012 event, won by Welshman Jamie Donaldson, was the first trip across the border for the event in nearly 40 years.

More than 130,000 spectators travelled to the North Coast for the occasion, making it the first regular event in European Tour history to completely sell out.

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has welcomed the news that the Irish Open will be staged in the Royal County Down in 2015 for the first time in 75 years.

She called for funding from the Executive and a reduction in the tourism VAT rate to maximize the potential of the event.

"The Royal County Down has already shown off its potential with the staging of the Senior British Open and the Walker Cup so I am confident that they will host a great event. I would like to congratulate all of those involved in the process of securing the event," she said.

"The Irish Open will allow South Down to showcase our tourism potential to a national and international audience. It is great news for the local hospitality industry, traders and retailers."

© UTV

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