McDowell keeping an eye on Royal Portrush plans

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland reacts after missing a putt on the 11th green during the 3rd round of the HSBC Champions golf tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo)
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland reacts after missing a putt on the 11th green during the 3rd round of the HSBC Champions golf tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo)

Royal Portrush could host the Open Championship as early as 2019 after a planning application for renovations to the course was approved.

The R&A, the sport’s governing body, confirmed the County Antrim links as an Open venue last June, subject to infrastructure work being completed.

“I’ve seen the renovation plans - they look amazing,” said Portrush native and 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell.

The Open is due to return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.

As we revealed this week, the renovation includes the building of two new holes to make way for corporate hospitality marquees and spectator villages.

“I can’t wait to see the plans evolve and playing the course in major championship-ready conditions,” added McDowell.

“It’s exciting that the planning permission has come through. My little brother is on the green staff at Portrush and I know they can’t wait to get their teeth into the renovations.

“With visitors coming over it will be a huge boost to the economy and so many great things will come out of this opportunity.”

The decision to bring the tournament to Portrush followed the successful staging of the Irish Open in 2012.