By Peter Dawson’s own admission, it was the ‘worst kept secret in golf’. Now, it’s official: Royal Portrush Golf Club is back on the Open rota.
The announcement was made today as the Northern Irish links course gears up to host this week’s Amateur Championship.
Revealing the news, R&A chief executive Dawson said: “I am delighted to confirm Royal Portrush has accepted an invitation to again become a host venue for the Open Championship.”
The club previously hosted golf’s oldest major in 1951, when England’s Max Faulkner claimed the Claret Jug. Dawson revealed that the earliest that the tournament could return there is in 2019, although that is dependent on course enhancements and modifications being approved by club members. He also said that the R&A is pledging to spend ‘several million’ to bring Royal Portrush its and infrastructure up to Open standard.
picture taken from R&A twitter account.
Royal Portrush :: politicians react
Reacting to the news, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson said: “This is wonderful news, not only for Royal Portrush Golf Club, but for the whole of Northern Ireland, with an estimated combined tourism promotion and economic return of £70million.
“Today’s announcement recognises that Northern Ireland not only has some of the world’s greatest golfers, but some of the world’s greatest golf courses.”
"The thought of our local golfers challenging for the Claret Jug on home soil is set to become a reality.” - Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "This announcement will create much anticipation and excitement as the thought of our local golfers challenging for the Claret Jug on home soil is set to become a reality.”
The recent major successes of three of Northern Ireland’s top players – Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and Darren Clarke – have seen calls for the championship’s return to the country intensify.
"It is wonderful for the area, for Northern Ireland and the whole of Ireland." - Darren Clarke
Responding to today’s news, 2011 Open champion Clarke said: “It is wonderful for the area, for Northern Ireland and the whole of Ireland that one of the biggest sporting events in the world is coming here.
"It's just massive, with pictures of Royal Portrush being beamed around the world to people who haven't seen how beautiful it is."
Peter Dawson of R&A comments on Royal Portrush hosting the Open. Video taken from the Open Championship.
Royal Porthcawl discussion
Royal Portrush is not the only course that the R&A has been investigating with a view to hosting the Open. It is also widely known that Royal Porthcawl in Wales has been under consideration. A decision on taking the championship to the Principality for the first time, however, appears to be still some way off.
“We have been looking at Royal Porthcawl and will be interested to see it host the Senior Open this year,” said Dawson. “However, it is too premature to be talking about it hosting the Open."