Royal Portrush to get first international major?
Well, this is some interesting news from the PGA of America’s Ted Bishop, isn’t it? About a month after hearing that the organization in charge of golf’s final major was looking into the possibility of moving the venue overseas every few years, Bishop dropped this tidbit on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, courtesy Ryan Lavner:
“Royal Portrush would be a great first international major,” he said. “I think given the powerful effect that Irish golfers have on the professional game today, that might be a good place to start.”
You can watch the short video at this link, which also features Annika Sorenstam suggesting that Royal Melbourne would be a great fit. What makes this interesting are the rumours from a few months ago that the R&A were considering taking the 2018 Open Championship to Portrush, opening up a spot in their current nine course rota for a venue that hosted its one and only Open back in 1951.
When this was suggested a few weeks ago, my initial thought was that it was a great idea to get onto some new courses and away from the tired ones like Valhalla and Bellerive, and my hope was that a place like Royal Melbourne, Le Golf National, Teeth of the Dog or Stoneforest would get a shot.
I wasn’t considering courses in the UK because of the Open, but obviously Bishop and the PGA of America have different ideas and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those ideas was to get back at the R&A after the whole anchored putter debate saw the two organizations land on opposite sides of the fence. The PGA of America would love to prove that Portrush can still be a worthy major venue before the R&A, right?
Also, according to Ewan Murray, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are on board with the whole thing:
“I have spoken to Ted Bishop [the PGA of America’s president] and spoken to Pete Bevacqua [the chief executive] about this,” McIlroy said. “They approached me about it a few months ago. I would be all for it. They said it is obviously quite a long way down the road, maybe 10 years or so. But I would love to be able to play a major championship at home. That would be nice.”
“Royal Portrush – it has always been a dream of mine to play the Open Championship there. The PGA would do nicely.
“It’s a very bizarre, a very amazing statement [from Bishop]. I was expecting it to be Asia. I wasn’t expecting it to be the north coast of Ireland. But exciting, exciting times. If it never comes to fruition, it is still a great boost for everyone in that area just to be mentioned in that breath.”
I don’t think Bishop and the PGA of America are bluffing on this one, and the support of players like McIlroy and McDowell is a big deal. Stay tuned.