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Royal Portrush to host 2012 Irish Open

The Irish Open is on its way to Royal Portrush Golf Club this summer.

The European Golf tour is expected to make an announcement at the club tomorrow confirming the tournament will return to Porturush for the first time since 1947.

Buoyed by the recent Major successes of Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell — who honed their games at Portrush — and Rory McIlroy, the Stormont Executive pledged last July to provide “substantial financial backing” to bring a European Tour event to Royal Portrush.

It is hoped that a successful staging of the tournament will quell concerns about the viability of holding the Open Championship at the course in the future.

It has been 60 years since the one and only occasion when the Open was held in Northern Ireland — with Max Faulkner winning here in 1951.

And last year's Open champion Clarke is among those who believe it is time to bring the world’s oldest major championship back to the north coast.

The 42-year-old said: “The golf course is every bit as good as any of the Open venues.

“It's good enough to be in the rota.”

Speaking last summer, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster called on all of the parties involved to make sure the Irish Open is a success in Northern Ireland.

“This will need a major commitment from Royal Portrush Golf Club, the European Tour, sponsors, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Tourism Ireland, Coleraine Borough Council and others,” she nsaid.

“But I am confident that we will work well together to make this a world-class event.”

She added: “This will showcase our golf tourism offering all over the world and provide a major boost to our local economy.”

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