Player backs calls for The Open return

Gary Player wins the Senior Open at Royal Portrush in 1997.

Gary Player wins the Senior Open at Royal Portrush in 1997.

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Gary Player is the latest golfing legend to throw his weight behind the campaign to bring The Open back to Royal Portrush.

Speculation has been intensifying over the last few weeks that the famous links course could be set to host the tournament for the first time since 1951.

Speaking to BBC NI at last week’s US Masters nine-time major winner Player said it would be great for the country as a whole for The Open to make a return to the north coast.

“I love Royal Portrush, it’s one of the greatest golf links in the world,” said Player.

“I was very proud to win the Senior Open there. So I have great memories of Royal Portrush. It would be wonderful to see the Open there, most deserving.

“It would be a great thing to have the Open – which I think is the greatest tournament in the world – played at Royal Portrush. I sincerely hope it happens.

“It would be a great thing for the young people of Ireland. I actually used to own a stallion named ‘Portrush’,” added the 78-year-old South African.

Talks to bring the Open to Royal Portrush – possibly by 2019 – are said to be at an advanced stage.