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McDowell hails Portrush's drive to host future Open

By Frank Brownlow

Major champion Graeme McDowell has praised the latest development in moves to bring the Open Championship to Northern Ireland for the first time since way back in 1951.

Royal Portrush could host the Open as early as 2019 after a planning application for renovations to the course was approved.

“I’ve seen the renovation plans — they look amazing,” said Portrush native and 2010 US Open champion McDowell.

“I can’t wait to see the plans evolve and play the course in major championship-ready conditions,” he added.

“It’s exciting that the planning permission has come through. My little brother is on the green staff at Portrush and I know they can’t wait to get their teeth into the renovations.

“With visitors coming over it will be a huge boost to the economy and so many great things will come out of this opportunity,” he said.

The R&A, golf’s governing body, confirmed the County Antrim links as an Open venue last June, subject to infrastructure work being completed.

Plans include the building of two new holes to make way for corporate hospitality marquees and spectator villages.

The decision to bring the tournament to Royal Portrush followed the highly successful staging of the Irish Open in 2012.

Former world number one Tiger Woods has announced that he will compete at next week’s Masters in Augusta.

The 14-time major winner had been a doubt after he withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open on February 6.

Woods said: “I’m playing in the Masters. It’s obviously very important to me, and I want to be there.

“I’ve worked a lot on my game and I’m looking forward to competing.”

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