After an absence of nearly 70 years, The Open is set to return to Royal Portrush and Northern Ireland in 2019.
Portrush has been invited to stage The Open by the R&A and the County Antrim club’s members will now be asked to ratify the proposal to enable preparations to begin for what is expected to be the largest sporting event ever to be held in Northern Ireland.
The Open was last held at Portrush in 1951 when Englishman Max Faulkner lifted the Claret Jug after a two-shot victory over Argentina’s Antonio Cerda, on the only occasion it has been played outside Scotland and England.
Royal Portrush successfully staged the Irish Open in 2012, with more than 130,000 people attending throughout a sell-out week, and it has held the Senior Open Championship on six occasions.
Based on independent research, the return of the Open is likely to deliver a combined economic impact and destination marketing benefit of £70m for Northern Ireland.
The First Minister Peter Robinson said, “The decision to bring The Open back to Northern Ireland is a tremendous vote of confidence in the game here and follows the huge success of the Irish Open in 2012, the first in European Tour history to sell out.
“The R&A’s decision to invite Portrush to join The Open rota is a ringing endorsement of Northern Ireland and I know we will deliver an event that we can all be proud of.”
The Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster added, “The Open’s arrival on the north coast will tell the world what we already know – that not only is Northern Ireland home to three Major winning golfers, it is home to some of the best courses on the planet.
“We will pull out all the stops to ensure that – just as we did with the Irish Open – Northern Ireland will stage a world class event that will be long remembered by players and spectators alike.”
Next year’s Open will be contested at Royal Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland (Jul 14-17) with the following Opens taking place at Royal Birkdale (Jul 20-23) and Carnoustie (Jul 19-22) in 2017 and 2018 respectively. And then, after a long, long wait, it’s Royal Portrush’s turn again…