Open Championship: R&A plays down Royal Portrush report
Last Updated: 04/07/14 11:23am
The R&A insists it remains "some distance" from being able to stage the Open Championship in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.
Rumours of the Open returning to Royal Portrush have been circulating for some time, with reports on Sunday claiming a deal had been done for 2019, 68 years after Max Faulkner won the only Open staged outside England and Scotland.
However, the R&A's response on Twitter labelled such reports as "Portrush rumours" and a statement read: "As part of our commitment to examine the feasibility of staging an Open Championship at Portrush, the R&A continues to discuss this at a conceptual level with Royal Portrush Golf Club and the Northern Ireland Executive.
"Discussions have been positive but we are still some distance from being in a position to take the Open to Northern Ireland."
The R&A denied reports last summer that the Open was set to be held at Portrush in 2018.
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson admitted that it is "a fantastic golf course," but concerns remain over the infrastructure required to stage a major and Dawson feels the current nine-course Open rota is "about right".
Portrush has not hosted a major championship since the 1951 Open, but the Irish Open drew massive crowds there in 2012 and the likes of major champions Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell have been lobbying on Portrush's behalf.
It has also been suggested that the R&A would hasten its decision after Portrush emerged as a surprise contender to stage the US PGA Championship.
The PGA of America is studying the impact of holding the event outside the United States, with the earliest possible date in 2020.
It had been thought that Asia would be the most likely venue, but PGA of America president Ted Bishop said in November last year that he was interested in Portrush.
"Royal Portrush would be a great first international major," Bishop said.
"I think given the powerful effect that Irish golfers have on the professional game today, that might be a good place to start."