The Open is to return to Northern Ireland it has today been announced, with Royal Portrush chosen as the venue for the 2019 championship.
The 148th Open will be just the second held outside of Scotland and England, and the first in almost 70 years, dating back to when Englishman Max Faulker lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush.
2014 Open winner Rory McIlroy said he was looking forward to playing the event in his home country. He added: “Royal Portrush is one of my favourite courses in the world and I think it will be a fantastic Open venue. They are going to add a couple of new holes to the course and I think that will be a great addition and will make the course event stronger.”
‘With all the passion Irish fans will bring, it is going to be amazing’ This event will mark only the second time in the history of the Open that it has not been held in Scotland or England – the other being that 1951 event hosted by Royal Portrush – and 2016 Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke 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 the Irish fans will bring to the event, is going to be amazing.”
The R&A have committed to hosting the Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, but also an additional two times. With an expected economic boon of £70 million during each event, the award is a major coup for Northern Ireland.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “The potential economic return of £70 million makes the Open coming to Portrush in 2019 a success story, not just for golf and golfing fans but our entire economy. I commend the R&A for their confidence and commitment to Portrush.”
The event will be broadcast to around half a billion people worldwide and work is already underway to prepare the Dunluce Links course.
The new 7th and 8th holes will utilise land from the adjacent Valley Course to develop a new par 5, playing down into the valley which encompasses that course’s sixth hole. A par 4 will then play back over its 5th hole into duneland.
These holes will replace the existing 17th and 18th holes, freeing up land to accommodate the spectator village and championship infrastructure.
The length of the course will be increased by just under 200 yards, making a total of 7,337 yards, and the number of bunkers ill be increased by three to 62. This will still leave Royal Portrush with the fewest bunkers of any of the courses which host the Open.