Is Royal Portrush about to get the 2018 Open?
Could the 2018 Open Championship be held at Royal Portrush? The Sun in Ireland seems to think that it’s a done deal:
“It is understood that Portrush’s successful staging of the Irish Open last year convinced chiefs at golf’s Royal & Ancient HQ to return. And insiders reckon the coup — swung with the help of Ulster’s star trio Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke — will deliver a massive €120million wedge of cash to the local economy. The Irish Open was a total sell-out and proved Royal Portrush could host a large event. The buses, trains and roads were up to the job and more than 100,000 people showed up. And, raining or not, the course, the club and the character of the local people helped it all go off really well.” The source added: “This time around everything will be on a much bigger scale.”
The R&A decides what courses get to host the Open Championship each year, and the current rota contains nine courses, all in either Scotland or England:
- The Old Course at St. Andrews
- Royal Troon
- Royal St. George’s
- Royal Birkdale
- Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s
- Royal Liverpool
Now, there’s really no rhyme or reason to what course gets selected each year, with the exception that The Old Course gets to host every five years. Muirfield is set to host this year, followed by Liverpool, the Old Course and Troon, which is the last announced course, set to host the 2016 Open. Portrush did host an Open back in 1951, and to date, is the only course outside of Scotland and England to host the event since the championship was first contested in 1860.
Last year, Jamie Donaldson took the Irish Open held at Portrush, which at the time was seen as a bit of a litmus test for how the venue could handle a professional event. It had previously hosted the Senior Open Championship, but outside of that, it hadn’t hosted a professional event since that 1951 Open. Apparently the R&A came away quite impressed with how the course dealt with things last year, but they cautioned people that holding a regular European Tour event was different than hosting the Open.
It makes sense that the club would want to host an Open, especially when you consider the economic boost that the event provides and the course itself is deserving of the honour as are several other courses in Ireland, namely Royal County Down. For their part, both the R&A and Royal Portrush have denied that the story is true, with Portrush club tournament committee chair John Bamber commenting this morning on BBC Radio:
“It’s an absolute no at this point in time. We’re delighted to continue any engagement – I know that certainly government … have been very helpful in looking at the possibilities for such an event, but at the same time there is no announcement that we would be in a position to make at this point in time.”
So, it’s not confirmed, but for the first time in a long time, Royal Portrush has a chance.