Portrush worthy venue for a British Open - Harrington
26 Jun 2012 - 18:48:06
Triple Major winner Padraig Harrington believes the sell-out nature of this week's Irish Open indicates Royal Portush is a worthy venue for the British Open.
In a European Tour first, the 27,000 tickets for each of the closing three days of this week's Irish Open have been sold out.
Enormous crowds flocked to the links course on the North Antrim coast for the second day of official practice Tuesday, and organisers are confident a full house will also turn up for Thursday's opening day.
In its 140-year championship history the British Open has been staged only once outside Scotland and England when the 1951 edition was held here.
And the return of the the Irish Open to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1953 looks certain to produce a financial windfall for organisers.
Also given the stable political scene in Northern Ireland, underlined by Queen Elizabeth 11s two day visit to Northern Ireland this week, Harrington believes it's time to consider bringing the British Open back across the Irish Sea.
However the decision lies with the Royal and Ancient Club of St. Andrews and it's always been CEO Peter Dawson's official view Royal Portrush does not have the space to accommodate the infrastructure of a major sporting event like the British Open.
"I had a long conversation with Peter (Dawson) and it was not just about the infrastructure but the political aspect as well," said Harrington who is an official ambassador for the R&A.
"But in say five or six years time it should be more of a reality to bring the Open Championship back to Portrush, and Ireland and Northern Ireland is bigger than that now.
"So I can't see a reason why The Open can't return here. Challenge-wise the golf course is more than capable of being an Open Championship golf course.
"What I don't know about is the other side of staging a Major Championship, as I have no idea of the infrastructure involved and besides I have not got into event management at this stage.
"I'm also not sure how the flow of people will go around this golf course this week but you need to host a big event like this to prove yourself.
"So if there is ever a good forerunner to getting The Open back here to Portrush then this could be the week."
The current World No. 69 will tee up in his national Open for a 17th straight year since 1996.
He will also be looking to end a four-year winless drought on either the European or PGA Tour's but having captured the Irish Open in 2007 at Adare Manor, Harrington confessed he will tee up with the least pressure than at any other Irish Open.
"If I had not won an Irish Open before I would be under this enormous pressure still to win an Irish Open but I'm not," he said.
"I'm quite relaxed and certainly before 2007 the stress I was under coming to an Irish Open made for a manic week.
"But I'm quite relaxed this week."