R&A to keep tabs on Irish Open at Royal Portrush

Hopes of the Open Championship returning to Royal Portrush might be remote but the R&A will still be keeping a close eye on how the Antrim course and the town holds up to Irish Open crowds from June 28 to July 1.

Speaking at the R&A’s Open Championship Media Day at Royal Lytham & St Annes on Monday, the organisation’s Chief Executive, made it clear that they would have one eye on Irish golf’s blue riband event before adding that there were no plans “in the boiler” to add to the current rota of Open courses.

“I have been to Royal Portrush, magnificent golf course,” Dawson said. “I must have been there on the foulest day of weather I can remember, but that’s by the by, and some of the people in the championship department have been over, as well, having a look. 

“Very interesting that they have the Irish Open there this year and some very strong ticket sales allegedly, so I hear, and we will have a look to see how that goes.

“We’re a long way from any announcement that the Open is going back to Portrush, but we have had a look at it.  Yeah, it’s an interesting venue from all sorts of points of view.  There are certain aspects of the golf course which would be very difficult for big crowds.”

Jim McArthur, chairman of the Open Championship committee, added:  “We had the Senior Amateur there last year, and we’ve got the Amateur Championship itself in 2014, so we’re continuing to use the venue and we’ll continue to look at it and see how we go in the future.”

Asked if there were plans afoot to add new venues to the Open rota or to revive old ones, Dawson said: “There’s nothing in the boiler at the moment.”

Royal Portrush staged the oldest competition in golf in 1951 when Max Faulkner took home the Claret Jug. Since then the tournament has always been played in England or Scotland.