Rory McIlroy might have kissed his hopes of Open glory goodbye at Royal St George’s but he could get a chance to lift the Claret Jug again on home soil as soon as 2025.
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, vice-chair of the All Parliamentary Group for Golf at Westminster, says The Open will be back at Royal Portrush in four years.
“I’m delighted it’s coming back to Northern Ireland and the smart money is on 2025,” Mr Paisley told the BBC at Sandwich.
“We’re making sure the course is prepared and there is a lot of political work going on behind the scenes.
“St Andrews (which hosts the 150th Open next year) takes over when here is finalised and I would like to think that there will be an official announcement about Northern Ireland and Royal Portrush next year.”
McIlroy, who famously missed the cut at Royal Portrush in 2019, shot a one-under 69 yesterday and goes into the final round tied for 41st on one under, 11 strokes behind South African Louis Oosthuizen.
The 2010 champion posted a 69 to lead by one stroke from American Collin Morikawa (68) and by three from Jordan Spieth (69) on 12 under par with defending champion Shane Lowry tied 12th on five under after a second-round 69.
The 2019 Open was a sell-out, bringing 237,500 fans from around the world to the Dunluce Links and generating roughly £100m in revenue for the Northern Ireland economy.
While the success of The Open at Royal Portrush both from a golfing and logistical perspective will have delighted the R&A - who determine where their flagship event will be played - it is believed its financial success was a big driver for the sport's governing body to want to bring it back to our shores quickly.
It is also believed that the R&A were always keen to host two Opens in Northern Ireland within a decade of each other, however this would still be still quick by the governing body's standards for the event.
Venues for the tournament are already assigned up to 2024 - Royal St George's host this year, followed by St Andrew's (2022), Royal Liverpool (2023) and Royal Troon (2024) - but hosting in 2025 would mean Portrush would be inserted back in the rotation as quickly as possible.
Rory McIlroy’s Major drought will stretch to seven years today, but Louis Oosthuizen will have a chance to put a year of Major pain behind him after digging deep down the stretch to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of The Open at Royal St George’s.