Business leaders on Northern Ireland’s north coast have given a warm welcome to news that one of the world’s most prestigious golf tournaments will be staged in Portrush in 2019.
The Open is the oldest major and has only been staged in Northern Ireland once before in its 154-year history – at Portrush in 1951.
The news follows the club’s successful staging of the Irish Open in 2012. Northern Ireland’s home-grown major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have all voiced support for the idea of The Open coming back to the north coast.
Alan Simpson of the Ramore wine bar described the news as a “dream come true”.
He said: “It’s one of those things you never expect to see in your lifetime, but now that it has come it is just phenomenal. As far as hospitality goes, that’s what we do well in Portrush.”
Neville Moore of the Whitehouse department store in the town said the expected announcement would be most welcome. “To have one of the world’s major sporting events come to the area has to be very significant. It shows how far we have come on as a Province and the fantastic work that the golf club has done to make that happen.
“If confirmed, that gives us five years, not just Portrush but Northern Ireland, to prepare for what is a world event,” he said.
Despite the buzz created by the media reports, yesterday a spokesman for Portrush Golf Club would only say: “We can confirm a Press conference on Monday at Royal Portrush where the amateur championship is taking place.
“I am not in a position to confirm the content of the Press conference at this time.”
The US-based Golf Digest magazine supports the move and said the local interest would ensure bumper crowds at “the game’s oldest and most important championship”.