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Irish Open: Portstewart to host 2017 event

Portstewart is to host the 2017 Irish Open. It is the second time in recent years the competition has been hosted in the area after it came to Royal Portrush in 2012.

The European Tour said on Tuesday that the tournament would take place from July 6-9.

By staging the tournament on the seaside links course, two weeks ahead of the Open Championship, organisers hope to attract world stars keen to experience conditions similar to those they will encounter at Open venue Royal Birkdale.

Lough Erne Golf Resort had been due to host the 2017 tournament but that plan was scrapped earlier this year.

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is hosted in conjunction with Rory McIlroy's charity, the Rory Foundation.

Stormont's Economy Minister Simon Hamilton welcomed the announcement.

"I want to ensure that the Irish Open benefits the local economy across the days of the tournament in Portstewart next July by showcasing the beautiful north coast area to the world," he said.

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East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell also welcomed news.

He said: "This is fantastic news, not just for the Causeway Coast area but the whole of Northern Ireland, as the competition will again bring visitors and publicity to the area.

"Northern Ireland is becoming renowned across the world amongst golf tourists, with Portstewart and Portrush offering some of the finest courses anywhere in the world.

"This competition is the latest in a long line of major events to come to Northern Ireland and I would pay tribute to the work carried out by the First Minister, successive Economy Ministers, and Rory McIlroy in their role in continuing to ensure that a positive image of Northern Ireland is promoted across the world.

"I will continue to work to ensure that Portstewart and the wider area is ready to maximise the benefits from hosting the competition which hopefully will be as popular as it was in Portrush back in 2012."

Portstewart's general manager Michael Moss told the BBC: "We have no doubt the Strand Course will provide nothing less than a worthy test of golf."

The club is four miles from Royal Portrush Golf Club, which will host the 2019 Open Championship.

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