Graeme McDowell believes the Irish Open was a Royal Portrush Flush, raising the stakes in the poker game with the R&A to bring the Open back to Ireland.
The home star reckons the town has played its cards to perfection and must now be seriously considered for future Irish Opens and the Open Championship itself.
Thrilled by the record crowds and the plaudits of his fellow players, G-Mac sent a message to the R&A and insisted: “‘The golf course has had a resounding, successful reaction from all the players. They’ve loved it.
“Yes, it was a little soft and slow this week but get it firm and fast and get the rough up and this course is a great British Open test.
“I would love, love, in my heart to see it come back here. There are so many variables involved in putting the Open Championship together.
“All we can do is put our chips in the middle of the table and say ‘we’re all in.’”
With yesterday’s figures confirmed at a massive 30,362, the cumulative attendance of 112,280 for the four days of this year’s Irish Open was a European Tour record.
The magic target of six figures had never been reached before - not even by the BMW PGA Championship, which is the Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth.
In fact, European Tour boss George O’Grady confirmed that the Irish Open will be back in Northern Ireland soon.
O’Grady said: “On the basis of those figures alone, it’s inconceivable to think we won’t be back to the North in the not too distant future.
“It represents a staggering success which fills all of us who have worked on the Irish Open with tremendous pride.”
Next year’s staging will be at Carton House but a return to Portrush in 2014 would present a problem, given that the club have already committed to stage the British Amateur Championship in mid-June. Which would make 2015 more likely.
O’Grady ruled out future links stagings at Portmarnock or Royal Dublin, insisting: “Playing the Irish Open at single-sex clubs would not be appropriate in such circumstances.”
McDowell reckons the Irish Open should now alternate between north and south with links courses the ideal venues.
McDowell said: “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be alternating norther and south of the border. We’ve proved that Portrush is a very successful venue and I love Carton House next year.
“Killarney was a fantastic event as well but this event should be played on a links style golf course like Portrush, like Portmarnock, like Carton House. Let’s go to Royal County Down some year.”
McDowell is just proud that all the Irish players have played their part in keep the Irish Open alive after some tough years.
He said: “It’s been a great advertisement for golf on the north coast. Yes, the weather could be a little better but the crowd has been amazing with 30,000 people every day.
“Their spirits would not be dampened. Hopefully we will be back and back very soon.”
The feel-good factor surrounding Portrush has now put it on the map with a view to staging the Open Championship again for the first time since 1951.
And while McDowell knows that R&A c Peter Dawson will not have missed a second of the coverage and had spies on the ground this week, he’d have loved to see more grandstands on the course.
He said: “I wish there had been a little more seating out there, it would have been great for the atmosphere.
“But I feel like we can handle the Open now and I think we have proven our case.
“The Open is a beast. It’s a behemoth and this event a little dwarf in comparison.
“Could we handle another 10-15,000 through these gates? It would require a lot of planning but I figure the R&A are pretty good at doing what they do.
“I think we’ve been disappointed this week by the lack of grandstands. There is a lot of availability, a lot of space around greens to seat people.
“You could have put four or five thousand more people around 17th and down the 18th.”
Clarke, McIlroy and Harrington all echoed McDowell’s sentiments on Portrush as a five-star venue for the Open or Irish Open.
Clarke said: “I’m just pleased the Irish Open has turned out to be a huge event. It’s been absolutely brilliant.
“Shame about the weather but it’s been a tournament that we would all love to come back and play again.”
Paul McGinley was unhappy with his finishing position but proud of another memorable Irish Open.
“I leave with great memories of Portrush and the Irish Open up here,” the Dubliner said. “It was a great week, great crowds. Despite the really bad weather yesterday and this morning. That’s going to be my memory more than my golf.”
Harrington gave the course the thumbs up and while he reckons the Irish Open could be played on several venues in the north, the chances of getting the Open again depend on logistics.
Harrington said: “It’s been brilliant in Northern Ireland and this golf course is fantastic.
“But they have been so successful here that the don’t necessarily have to come back and try and prove anything. Maybe let’s take it back to Royal County Down.
“The Open? It has the same feel as a lot of Open venues. But logistics are not my area of expertise. That’s for the R&A to understand and maybe the Norhtern Ireland government.
“The Open has been here before. It would be unbelievable.”