ONE of the most cherished dreams in Irish golf will come true next Monday when the return of the British Open to Royal Portrush is confirmed at a media conference convened by the Royal and Ancient.
It's understood golf's oldest Major will be played on Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush in 2019. It will only be the second time the Open will be staged outside of the British mainland since 1951, when Max Faulkner won in Portrush.
The success of the 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush in front of European Tour record crowds confirmed that Co Antrim's Causeway Coast could accommodate a modern Major.
But changes will need to be made to Harry Colt's classic course. Two new finishing holes are envisaged, extending into the Valley Course and back towards the clubhouse.
This would allow space for the massive grandstand and scoreboards which traditionally surround 18 at the Open.
Meanwhile, extensive corporate and public catering facilities could then be sited on the current 17th and 18th, which afterward would be incorporated into the Valley Course. Such extensive changes are unlikely for just one staging of the Open, sparking speculation that Portrush will be added to the rota.
It will be interesting if this rota is expanded to 10, a prospect which should command the attention of Turnberry owner Donald Trump.
The announcement will coincide with the (British) Amateur Championship, which commences at Royal Portrush next Monday.
"It is wonderful for the area, for Northern Ireland and the whole of Ireland – one of the biggest sporting events in the world is coming here," said 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke.
Portrush native Graeme McDowell said: "It'll be pretty amazing. It's a few years out and I hope I'm still playing and still competitive. It is a special, special time. Bring it on."