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Irish Open 2015 to be held at Royal County Down Golf Club

Surprise choice of venue will see the Newcastle course host for the first time in 75 years

Next year's Irish Open golf tournament will be hosted by Royal County Down - the first time in 75 years the prestigious event has been held at the Newcastle course.

The choice of venue is a surprise, as Royal Portrush was expected to stage another Irish Open in 2015 after the success of the tournament on the north coast two years ago.

Royal County Down has a terrific pedigree when it comes to big tournaments, having staged the Senior British Open from 2000 to 2002. It also hosted the 2007  Walker Cup.

The 2012 event was made possible through funding by the Northern Ireland Executive and a similar investment is expected next year as well.

Jamie Donaldson won the 2012 Irish Open at the end of  a week that saw attendance records broke.

Indeed, the Royal Portrush tournament - the first time in 60 years that the Irish Open was hosted north of the border - was the first-ever sold-out event on the European Tour.

This year's tournament will be played at Fota Island in Cork.

Northern Ireland has long been mooted as a possible venue for The Open itself, and Royal County Down, like Royal Portrush, will regard hosting the Irish Open as a chance to showcase their ability to host a major.

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