Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

'Big Three' give thumbs-up to Portrush

Rory McIlroy believes the Irish Open at Royal Portrush was a 'huge success'

Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland's 'Big Three', want the Irish Open back at Royal Portrush as soon as possible - then they hope the Open Championship will follow.

There was never going to be any doubt about how much the players would love the famous course as it staged the Irish Open for the first time in 59 years. Nor was there any question that local fans would turn out in huge numbers - record numbers, in fact, with over 30,000 on each of the final two days.

Now the Royal and Ancient Club are bound to come under even more pressure to take The Open back to Portrush, the scene of Max Faulkner's win in 1951.

With Royal Lytham in a fortnight's time being followed by Muirfield, Hoylake, St Andrews and Royal Troon, 2017 is the first available year.

"It's great to be able to feel like I did something to help bring the Irish Open here and I think it's been a huge success," said McIlroy, who finished joint 10th.

McDowell was one shot further back in 16th place and stated: "I don't see any reason why we can't be alternating north and south of the border year by year.

"I think we have proven that Royal Portrush is a very successful venue and it's been a great advertisement for golf on the north coast."

Open champion Clarke was down in 39th, but said: "It's been absolutely brilliant.

"It's certainly been a tournament that we would all love to come back and play again and I think it's been enjoyed not just by the professionals, but by the spectators and everybody involved."

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