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Clarke: No doubt Portrush can host Open

ESPN staff
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Phillip Tweedie, captain at Royal Portrush, raises a glass to Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy © PA Photos
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Darren Clarke feels that the Royal Portrush course will prove this week that it is more than capable of hosting the Open Championship in future.

Portrush, Clarke's local course and where the Irish Open begins on Thursday, has not housed the British major since 1951 - the only time the tournament was held outside England or Scotland.

But Clarke, who lifted the Claret Jug in 2011, has urged the Royal and Ancient Club (R&A), which administers the Open Championship, to give the Northern Irish track its chance.

"There's no question the golf course is good enough to host an Open Championship," Clarke said to Sky Sports. "The logistics are what the R&A need to take a look at.

"But they're going to look this week and see how people get on: how the people get around the golf course, and the early indications are it's going to be a fantastic week. Let's hope the R&A look favourably on it."

Meanwhile, Clarke believes the likes of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington - major winners all - have a fine chance of victory at the Irish Open this week due to their familiarity with the conditions.

"I think the chances of a local winner are pretty good," Clarke said. "The weather forecast for the next few days is not very good, so there's a lot of local knowledge going to come into play with the golf course.

"Most of the Irish guys in the field know the course better than the other guys, so I think there's a good chance of seeing a couple of Irishmen up there [in contention] come Sunday afternoon."

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