- The 2019 Open Championship will be held at Royal Portrush
- Only second time it will be hosted outside England and Scotland
- Rory gives backing to 'one of his favourite courses in the world'
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy has thrown his support behind Royal Portrush after the Northern Ireland venue was named the host of the 2019 Open Championship.
The Open last visited Royal Portrush in 1951, where Englishman Max Faulkner lifted the Claret Jug, and the championship is expected to be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland, with more than £70m expected to be generated.
It will mark only the second time in the Open’s history that it will be staged outside of Scotland and England, and world No.3 McIlroy is already counting down the days until sports fans from throughout Ireland and the world descend on the town.
"I think it will be a fantastic Open venue" - Rory McIlroy
“Royal Portrush is one of my favourite golf courses in the world,” said McIlroy, who lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool in 2014. “I think it will be a fantastic Open venue. They are going to add a couple of new holes to the golf course and I think that will be a great addition and will make the course even stronger. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Course preparations and the work to create the two new holes on the renowned Dunluce Links are well underway, replacing the current 17th and 18th holes to free up land that can be used to accommodate the spectator village and championship infrastructure.
Earlier this year, the proposals were approved by Royal Portrush members, and the work is being overseen by Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert. As well as creating two new holes, a series of other changes are being made to the course – most significantly the lengthening of the second and tenth holes to give the course a total yardage of 7,337 – enhancing the challenge that will face the world’s top golfers while remaining true to the ethos of Harry Colt’s original design.
"This is going to be absolutely huge for Northern Ireland" - Darren Clarke
Ryder Cup captain and 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke, who was present at Royal Portrush for the press conference, said: “This is going to be absolutely huge for Northern Ireland and, indeed, Ireland as a whole. To have the world’s biggest and best golf championship played at such a fantastic venue as Royal Portrush, with all the passion that the Irish fans will bring to the event, is going to be amazing.”
Peter Unsworth, chairman of the R&A’s championship committee, said: “We are very much looking forward to bringing the Open to Royal Portrush in 2019 and believe it will be a tremendous venue for the championship. We know there is great anticipation throughout Ireland at the prospect of welcoming the world’s top golfers and it promises to be a hugely memorable week. We are delighted with the progress being made on the course preparations and they will undoubtedly enhance the challenge presented by these historic links.”
Acting First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I welcome today’s announcement that the Open Championship is to be held at Royal Portrush in 2019 and twice again in the future. Securing the Open Championship at Royal Portrush is a magnificent achievement. It is a key part of Tourism NI’s events strategy and is crucial to consolidating our efforts to grow visitor numbers and visitor spend.”
The Open :: Royal Portrush bound
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