No Open decision yet says the R&A

Royal Portrush. Picture by Darren Kidd/
Royal Portrush. Picture by Darren Kidd/

The Royal and Ancient says any decision to bring The Open back to Northern Ireland is still ‘some distance’ away.

Rumours were circulating at the end of last week that the famous old competition would be making a return to Royal Portrush in 2019.

However, the R&A issued a statement on Sunday confirming discussions were underway, but added there was still work to be done.

The statement said: “Discussions have been positive but we are still some distance from being able to take the Open to Northern Ireland.

“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.”

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 while it is “a fantastic golf course,” concerns remain over the infrastructure required to stage a major and he believes the current nine-course Open rota is “about right”.

It has been suggested that the R&A would hasten its decision after Portrush emerged as a surprise contender to stage the US PGA Championship.

“Royal Portrush would be a great first international major,” said PGA of America president Ted Bishop.

“Given the powerful effect that Irish golfers have on the professional game today, that might be a good place to start.”