The R&A announced that the 148th Open Championship in 2019 will return to Royal Portrush, making it only the second time in British Open history, and the first time in nearly seventy years, the tournament will be held outside England or Scotland.
Englishman Max Faulkner lifted the claret jug in 1951 when he shot an aggregate 285 the last time the Royal Portrush hosted the Open.
Multiple renovations are underway to augment the Dunluce Links course, including the creation of two new holes. The layout will measure 7,337 yards and three bunkers will be added to total 62. This still renders the golf course with the fewest bunkers of any of the British Open tracks.
Peter Unsworth, chairman of the R&A’s championship committee, said ”We are delighted with the progress being made on the course preparations and they will undoubtedly enhance the challenge presented by these historic links.’’
Since the last time the event was held at Royal Portrush, the Open Championship increased in stature significantly and now attracts over 200,000 spectators every year. Third-ranked golfer in the world and 2014 Open champion, Rory McIlroy along with fellow Irish golfers Darren Clarke (2011 Open Champion) and Graeme McDowell (2010 U.S. Open champion), give credence as to why Ireland deserves to host the 148th Open.
”Royal Portrush is one of my favorite golf courses in the world,” McIlroy stated in an AP article. ”I think it will be a fantastic Open venue.’’ The course recently served as the venue for the 2012 Irish Open.
The official Open website revealed Darren Clarke’s prediction for the 2019 championship: “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 that the Irish fans will bring to the event, is going to be amazing.”
The fans will bring more than just passion to the Open. The R&A anticipates the Open to be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland. Irish officials expect a hefty 70 million pounds ($108 million) in terms of economic impact and destination marketing benefit.