Belfast Telegraph

Royal Portrush to host The Open: Championship will return to Northern Ireland for first time in almost 70 years

By Claire Cromie

Royal Portrush is expected to host The Open as it is announced the championship will return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years.

The news has been impending while delicate negotiations took place involving the Stormont Executive and R&A organisers, with changes required at the famous old course that needed the consent of the Royal Portrush club membership.

Golf's oldest Major has not been held in Northern Ireland since 1951 and Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have all called for its return.

The decision by the Royal and Ancient is understood to follow Portrush's successful staging of the Irish Open in 2012.

It is expected to host the tournament as early as 2019.

The famed Dunluce Links, which ranks amongst the world's greatest courses, could now be added to the official rota of venues which would see The Open return on a regular basis.

The changes which must be made at Portrush to accommodate an event on such a vast scale are so great, they'll be permanent.

Changes include the building of two new finishing holes and massive grandstands, which are a feature of every Open.

Open winner Darren Clarke, who has a house overlooking the links, has been gently lobbying Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club for years and said: “I think everyone knows my views on the possibility of getting The Open back to Portrush. There’s no question the course is good enough.’

Portrush will freshen up an Open rota which includes St Andrews, Muirfield, Royal St George's, Royal Lytham, Royal Birkdale, Royal Troon, Carnoustie, Turnberry and this year's venue Royal Liverpool.

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