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The Open must return to Royal Portrush, says former world number one Brooks Koepka

 

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Feeling at home: Brooks Koepka with his local caddy Ricky Elliott at Royal Portrush

Feeling at home: Brooks Koepka with his local caddy Ricky Elliott at Royal Portrush

©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Feeling at home: Brooks Koepka with his local caddy Ricky Elliott at Royal Portrush

Former world number one Brooks Koepka believes The Open "has to come back" to Royal Portrush after the success of last year's event.

Koepka finished in a tie for fourth on the north coast, nine shots behind eventual winner Shane Lowry, but was left enamoured with the north coast.

"Portrush was my favourite course besides St Andrew's in The Open rotation. It has to go back to Portrush," said Koepka, whose caddie Ricky Elliott is from the north coast town.

Koepka had been among the favourites to win at Royal Portrush having been World No.1 at the time and given his record at Major Championships is exceptional compared to most other professional golfers.

Despite falling short around the Dunluce links, however, the 29-year-old was effusive in his praise of the course, which was echoed by caddie Elliott.

“(Portrush) is on the (Open) rota now. It’s brilliant for the town, for Northern Ireland,” added the Portrush man as part of a discussion with boss Koepka on the latter’s Instagram.

“It was fun being there with you (Koepka), especially because you were No.1 at the time and people expected you to win the tournament.

“Portrush was special because all my friends were there, it was pretty overwhelming actually.”

Koepka concurred, adding: “Yeah, it was so much fun.”

Although Open organisers have not confirmed any host venues of the tournament beyond 2024, it is widely expected that the tournament will be back at Royal Portrush sooner rather than later, with 2026 having been mooted in the past.

With endorsements such as Koepka’s, and with plenty of other high-profile names singing the Dunluce’s praises as well, that will only encourage organisers to bring it back to the north coast as soon as possible.

Later in the live stream, which took the form of a Q&A session with fans, Elliott also confirmed that fellow Portrush native Graeme McDowell is one of his favourite players to be paired with at tournaments.

“Being out with G-Mac and Ken (Comboy, his caddie) is fun. Probably G-Mac, and if I had to pick another one it’d be Leish (Marc Leishman),” added Elliott.

Belfast Telegraph