GRAEME MCDOWELL DECLARED Irish Open organisers have ‘proven’ their case and called on organisers of golf’s oldest major to return the British Open to Royal Portrush given the overwhelming success of the Irish Open.
The British Open has been staged once outside of Scotland and England and that was in 1951 at the County Antrim links gem.
But after 130,785 people attended the Irish Open, including more than 30,000 on each of the closing two days, McDowell believes the R and A, as organisers of the British Open, need to seriously consider including Royal Portrush back on the championship rota.
And McDowell, as winner of the 2010 US Open, directed his plea straight at Peter Dawson, as CEO of golf’s St. Andrews-based ruling body, the Royal and Ancient.
“All I can say to Peter Dawson is that we have run a successful event here, we’ve had British Open-style crowds with some 30,000 people coming through these gates every day,” said McDowell after posting a final round 66 to share 16th place on 10-under par.
“There’s been an overwhelming vote of success from all the players with regards to the golf course and they love it.
“And while in my heart I would love to see the British Open come back to Royal Portrush, and while there are so many variables involved in getting The Open back here, all we can do is put our chips in the middle of the table.
“But I know we can do this and we can run a very successful British Open up here on the north coast of Northern Ireland.
“Yes, the British Open is bigger than the Irish Open, of course. It’s just such a big machine, a beast but I feel we can handle that now and we’ve proved our case for that.
“It’s going to require a lot of planning to cope with another 10 to 15,000 spectators but I am sure the R & A can find a way of handling routing the fans around the golf course, the seating and so on.
“I’m sure the R and A had its reasons and if the Open Championship doesn’t return here it will be for very, very good reasons.
“But we’ve proven our case this week and we’ve talked long and hard getting the Open Championship back here and we’ve delivered this week.”