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Push for Portrush gathers momentum

If Darren Clarke had his way, the Open would be held at Royal Portrush every year - but the new champion probably faces a long wait just to discover if it will stage the championship in his lifetime.

There had been calls to take the event back to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 in the past, but now that Clarke has joined US Open champions Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy as a major winner the campaign has gathered momentum.

Royal and Ancient Club chief executive Peter Dawson said: "I think we're all very aware of the fact that three winners from Northern Ireland increases the interest level in this."

Asked what Portrush needs that it does not currently have, he replied: "I don't know yet until we've had another look at it, to be honest. The usual mixture of a great course and plenty of infrastructure, combined with a prospect of commercial success, is what's needed.

"No doubt about the golf course at Portrush, although there might be one or two things one would do, but the other two are what we have to look at. I don't want to start a hare running on this, other than we are going to take a closer look."

The political situation could be a factor as well.

"Things seem to be getting an awful lot better, but I have been reading of some difficulty in the papers lately," added Dawson. "I have no idea how exaggerated or otherwise those are. It'll be one of the things we take into account, although I don't think it's right at the forefront of our mind."

Clarke commented: "At the moment they (the R&A) can't see a way of having it there, so it's very tough.

"I wish there was some way around it and I hope at some stage in the future they will find a way around it because the golf course is every bit as good as any of the Open venues.

"It's good enough to be in the Open rota. Hopefully they will figure a way around the logistics if they possibly can."


From Belfast Telegraph