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Portmarnock Links continues quest for Irish Open with May qualifier

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Graeme McDowell will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the next two years. Photo: Getty Images

Graeme McDowell will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the next two years. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Graeme McDowell will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the next two years. Photo: Getty Images

Portmarnock Links will take another small step in its bid to host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open when it stages a €40,000 qualifier for this year's championship from May 23-24.

The north Dublin venue is pushing hard to host the €6.3million Rolex Series event, with its Canadian owners planning to build a new clubhouse and practice ground in a bid to bring the superstars to the capital in 2022 or 2024.

Designed by Bernhard Langer and Stan Eby, the venue hoped to stage last year's Irish Open but lost out to Co Clare links, Lahinch.

The resort was subsequently sold by Kennedy Wilson to a Canadian chain run by the billionaire Gaglardi family - owners of the Dallas Stars ice-hockey team - for a reported €50million last November.

Graeme McDowell will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the next two years, with 2018 venue Portstewart already telling its members that it will succeed Mount Juliet as host venue in 2021.

Portmarnock Links will be among the front runners for 2022 when Pádraig Harrington is likely to be the host, or 2024, in the event of another staging in Northern Ireland in 2023.

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"We are in constant contact with the European Tour about dates," said Director of Golf, Conor Russell. "We would hope the Irish Open will come to Portmarnock Links sooner rather than later."

A 130-strong field will battle for four places over 36 holes in what will be the third Dubai Duty Free Irish Open qualifier and the right to join the likes of Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and defending champion Jon Rahm at Mount Juliet from May 28-31.

All PGA in Ireland members and registered assistants, six GUI-nominated amateurs and a further 12 pros selected by the European Tour will be eligible to compete for the €6,000 winner's cheque.

Meanwhile, Mallow's James Sugrue was frustrated to rack up a late triple-bogey in the second round of the African Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Leopard Creek.

The Amateur champion was seven-under for the day with two holes to go, just two shots off the lead, but took seven at the eighth, his 17th, in a four-under 68.

He goes into today's third round tied for second with South Africa's Martin Vorster on seven-under-par, seven strokes behind local teenager Ryan van Velzen (18), who eagled the 18th to add a 66 to his opening 64.

Irish Independent