Northern Ireland

The Open: Portrush hosting golf's biggest tournament 'is boost for tourism'

Irish Open at Portrush Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The Irish Open was staged at Royal Portrush in 2012

The return of The Open, the biggest golf tournament in the world, to Portrush has been greeted as a "real boost for tourism".

Royal Portrush club's place on the rota of host courses is to be confirmed next week. It is likely to be held in 2019.

The R&A, which organises The Open, has confirmed it will hold a press conference at Royal Portrush on Monday.

It is the first time since 1951 that Northern Ireland and the County Antrim course has hosted The Open.

The decision follows the successful staging of the Irish Open in 2012.

As it is going on a rota of courses, it means Portrush will also get future tournaments after 2019.

Philip Tweedie from Royal Portrush said this was good news for everyone.

"It is something we have been working towards over the last few years. It is great for the club, it is great for Portrush, for Northern Ireland and, indeed, Ireland," he said.

"From the overall tourism point of view, this is a real boost."

Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke had all called for The Open to return to Portrush.

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Media captionMr Hillis said the legacy of hosting The Open would far outweigh any short term loss.

Darren Clarke, who won The Open in 2011 is delighted that his home club will stage the tournament.

"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," he said.

"It's just massive, with pictures of Royal Portrush being beamed around the world to people who haven't seen how beautiful it is."

Two-times major winner Rory McIlroy said winning the Open at Portrush would be the pinnacle of his career.

"Irish golf has been on a great run and the ultimate is getting a major back here," he said.

"It's going to be incredible and I'm already looking forward to it.

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Media captionMcDowell delighted with Open return

"Everyone says winning the Open at St Andrews is a golfer's dream, but to win the event at home would probably be even bigger for me."

Graham McDowell said that to play an open championship in Portrush would be "something a bit special".

US star Tiger Woods said: "As far north as I have been is Royal County Down... But it would be pretty incredible."

The officials at Royal Portrush are equally pleased with the news.

Norman Hillis who is also an alderman and businessman in Portrush said: "They've all been rooting for us to get The Open here and everybody is thrilled. This is fantastic for the town and brilliant for Northern Ireland. The Royal Portrush Golf Club is top class in the world."

Mr Hillis said the legacy of hosting The Open would far outweigh any short term loss.

"We will be at the centre of the golfing world for the whole build-up period and we will have legacy after this competition is played in 2019. There will be far, far greater benefits. People will be coming from all over the world to play the course," he said.

"It is going to be an event, not just for Portrush, but for all of Northern Ireland."

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