Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

R&A chief promises to 'look at' Portrush for Open Championship

Darren Clarke
SANDWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 17: General View of the final leaderboard at the end of the final round following Darren Clarke's victory in The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Darren Clarke with Alison Campbell. 'Everything is fantastic at the moment,' he says

The chances of Royal Portrush staging an Open Championship have taken a massive leap forward in the wake of Darren Clarke's Claret Jug triumph yesterday.

Peter Dawson, head of the Royal and Ancient, says they are seriously considering taking the Championship back there for the first time since 1951.

"Portrush is a wonderful golf course," he said. "It's a big strong course. There are one or two things you might want to do to it for an Open Championship.

"An Open is not just about the golf course. It's about the infrastructure, the hotels, the roads, is there room for the tented village and so on? Although there certainly would be at Portrush.

"Would the Championship be a commercial success? That's very important to us because we do use the Open for the work that we do to help develop the game around the world.

"But we are not stupid at the R&A. We do hear the emotion, we hear the pressure and we are going to take a look at it."

Meanwhile, Clarke's manager Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, a former European Tour player himself, now handles the careers of the last three major champions - and four of the last five.

Louis Oosthuizen won last July's Open and so far this season Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and now Clarke have captured The Masters, US Open and Open.

In a month's time at the US PGA Chandler has the chance to complete his own "Chubby Slam".

Clarke was his first big signing over 20 years ago, soon followed by Lee Westwood. The world number two has yet to win his first major.

Chandler says: "There is a lot of talk of success and they will be trying for the clean sweep."

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