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R&A and Portrush deny 2018 Open deal

ESPN staff
June 7, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Could Rory McIlroy tee it up at Royal Portrush for the 2018 Open Championship? © Getty Images
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Tournament organisers have moved quickly to deny a report that Royal Portrush has been selected to host the 2018 Open Championship.

A story in the Irish Sun on Friday claimed that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club had been persuaded to return the Open to Portrush for the first time in 67 years, following lobbying from major champions Rory MclIroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

The storied course's successful hosting of last year's Irish Open, where more than 100,000 spectators passed through the gates despite difficult weather conditions, also convinced the Open's organising committee that the course has the infrastructure to host golf's most storied tournament.

However, the R&A moved quickly to dispel the report, saying in a statement: "There is nothing in it."

Royal Portrush has also distanced itself from the rumours, with club tournament committee chairman John Bamber saying the Sun had got "slightly ahead of itself".

"It's an absolute no at this point in time," Bamber told BBC Radio Ulster. "We're delighted to continue any engagement - I know that certainly government ... have been very helpful in looking at the possibilities for such an event, but at the same time there is no announcement that we would be in a position to make at this point in time."

Portrush would love to host the Open in the near future, but Bamber confirmed more hurdles need to be overcome before a final decision can be made.

Bamber added: "It is an aspiration that many have, but at the same time there is a phenomenal build-up time to these (events), to have the infrastructure, to have the requirements in place and that's really how these events can come to bear."

Royal Portrush is the only course outside England and Scotland to have hosted the Open - Max Faulkner winning the Claret Jug by two shots back in 1951.

ESPN and Tourism Ireland are offering you the chance to win a round with former Open champion Darren Clarke at Royal Portrush. For details on how to enter, click here.

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