The return of The Open to Royal Portrush is ‘massive’, says 2011 champion Darren Clarke
Last Updated: 01/04/19 6:18pm
Darren Clarke is looking forward to the return of the "biggest and best" championship in world golf returning to Northern Ireland as Royal Portrush prepares to stage The 148th Open in July.
Clarke, who defied the odds to etch his name onto the famous Claret Jug with his memorable Open triumph at Royal St George's in 2011, believes his beloved Portrush will be the perfect venue when golf's elite stars compete for the final major of the year.
The Championship has only once before been held in Northern Ireland, with Max Faulkner Peter Thomson and Bobby Locke - who won The Open a combined nine times - to capture his only major title back in 1951.
Win a trip to The 148th Open
Click here to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience The 148th Open, Royal Portrush
The R&A's decision to take the championship back to the historic links for the first time in 68 years has proved a popular move with players and fans, with tickets for the four days of competition selling out in record time.
And Clarke, one of the driving forces behind the campaign to restore Royal Portrush as an Open venue, is confident that this year's edition will be one for the ages, with the region given its first opportunity to showcase a great course and surroundings to a global audience for the first time since the Irish Open was held there in 2012.
"The Open Championship coming up is a massive event," said Clarke. "And to have it at Portrush, the Irish people are even more excited because it is right there on their doorstep.
"I think Royal Portrush was always a well-known golf course and a destination for many foreign visitors to come and play - one of the bucket-list golf courses - but I think that's even more so now.
"I have noticed these past few years since Royal Portrush was awarded The Open Championship, the increase in people coming to play here.
"The views that are going to be broadcast around the world, people to see how good the golf course actually is, to see how fair it is, to see how enjoyable it is to play, experience what it is like, and maybe have a couple of liquid libations in the evening to enjoy themselves I think they will have a great time.
"The last time we had the Open Championship at Royal Portrush was 1951 when the late great Max Faulkner won the tournament. The Open is the one that we all strive for, it is the one that we want.
"It is the oldest, the biggest and the best. It is the only major that is played on a links golf course.
"To see my name on the claret jug besides some of the greats to have ever played our sport is a huge honour for me. I will be very proud to be there on my home course, to be playing in the Open Championship.
"To get to this stage where the best golfers in the world are going to be there playing one of the best golf courses in the world, to highlight what Northern Ireland does have to offer can do nothing but be such a positive impact on all of Northern Ireland … and indeed Ireland."
If you were unable to snap up tickets for The 148th Open, Royal Portrush in July, we are offering you a fantastic chance to attend the third round. Click here to enter.