Open Championship to be staged at Royal Portrush in 2019
Royal Portrush Golf Club will host the 2019 Open Championship, with the event returning to the Northern Ireland venue for the first time in 68 years.
Organiser the Royal & Ancient said last year that Royal Portrush would host the event, and on Tuesday it confirmed 18-21 July 2019 as the dates.
A successful staging of the Open at Royal Portrush in 2019 is likely to mean the major returning to the venue.
The Open will be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland.
Portrush's hosting of the event in 1951 is the only previous occasion the golf major was staged outside England or Scotland.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said he was "delighted" to announce the event's return to Northern Ireland for what will be the 148th staging of the championship.
"We can now begin the countdown to what will be a wonderful festival of golf at one of the sport's truly outstanding venues," he said.
With the Northern Ireland Executive providing backing for the 2019 event, R&A officials were joined at Tuesday's announcement by Northern Ireland's Acting First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open champion and current European Ryder Cup captain, was also present and said he was "thrilled".
"To have the biggest and finest tournament is a very proud moment and the event coming here is a huge step of trust by the R&A," he added.
The chairman of Royal Portrush's championship organising committee, John Bamber, said Tuesday's announcement represented "one of the greatest days" in the course's history.
"We are all extremely delighted and excited and it's great to see the clock ticking to the Open Championship at Royal Portrush again," he said.
"Most of the independent financial surveys that are completed on the Open Championship would suggest that it brings something between £55m to £70m in the year of the Open to the wider community in the venue's area."
The successful staging of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 strengthened the case for a return to the world-renowned seaside links.
The hosting of the event in 2019 was dependent on course and infrastructure changes to the venue being approved by club members and completed in good time for the championship.
Once the alterations were overwhelmingly agreed by the club's membership, confirmation of the 2019 event was a formality.
Under the direction of Martin Ebert, work to create two new holes, using land from the adjacent Valley course, is already well under way.
The new seventh and eighth holes will replace the current 17th and 18th, freeing up land for the spectator village and other infrastructure, while the course length will increase by just under 200 yards to 7,337.
As the event operates on a rota basis, Royal Portrush will be in line to host further Opens after it stages the event in 2019.
Peter Dawson, who stepped down as secretary of the R&A in September, last year described Royal Portrush as "one of the world's truly great links courses", one with a "rich golfing heritage".
England's Max Faulkner won the Open during its only previous staging at the venue 64 years ago.
Prior to Portrush, the Open will be staged at Royal Troon (2016), Royal Birkdale (2017) and Carnoustie (2018).