The Open Championship 2019: Royal Portrush could stage the major again after huge successful return

The Open returns to Portrush in July
The Open returns to Portrush in July

Graeme McDowell has led calls for The Open to make a quick-fire return to Royal Portrush, saying he's heard the Claret Jug could return as quickly as five years.

The Portrush native hailed his home course's handling of hosting The Open for the first time in 68 years by insisting his playing peers rate it the best links championship venue.

And the 39-year-old even admitted he has heard talk that the R&A could bring the tournament back to Northern Ireland in the next five years.

Whatever happens McDowell will not stop lobbying for his home town to gain further Open championship hosting privileges, now that Northern Ireland is back in the rotation reckoning.

"I've heard the whispers that we could be back here as soon as five years from now," said McDowell.

"The financial commitment Portrush have made to this, for it to get the recognition and get back here soon, and keep that Portrush train rolling, it would be huge."

Read our in-depth course guide for Royal Portrush - host of The Open
Read our in-depth course & area guide for Royal Portrush

Royal Portrush course bosses have long admitted that even 20 years ago the idea of The Open coming to Northern Ireland was hugely fanciful.

But now the wait has been broken, McDowell insisted Northern Ireland needs further support for Portrush to become a regular Open venue.

"If we have to wait another 10 years, the icing might rub off between now and then and people might forget a little bit," said McDowell.

"But hopefully we can get back soon, and it will be very, very special. The players just love the golf course, they feel like it's the best links course they've ever seen."

Clarke calls for quick return

Former Open champion Darren Clarke, who hit the first tee-shot at his home course this week, added his backing for a quick return after such a successful week.

"I think it's been wonderful and I think everybody has really enjoyed it," Clarke told Sky Sports. "The golf course has been a good, fair, stern test, albeit a little softer and with not as much wind as they would have liked.

"All of the caddies and all of the players have enjoyed it. The crowds you have seen have thoroughly enjoyed it and the R&A will be very pleased. This is the Open Championship and this is the biggest and best tournament in the world.

"Everybody in the town has been really looking forward to this for a very long time and the whole place has been buzzing. All the local people have really enjoyed the excitement of having an Open Championship here.

"Hitting the opening tee shot was huge and certainly a moment I will cherish forever. I was very nervous and quite emotional, but it was a lovely way to start the week."

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