It’s the first time the event has been played in Northern Ireland since 1953. Royal Portrush last hosted the Irish Open in 1947 and has also previously hosted the British and Senior British Opens.
The decision to move the European Tour event northward for 2012 comes on the back of Northern Ireland’s golfing achievements in the last two years which have the locals proclaiming ‘major courses make major winners’.
Darren Clarke’s emotional victory in the Open Championship last summer followed successive US Open victories by Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.
Both Clarke and McDowell honed their games at Royal Portrush and both have homes in the area.
Alongside double Open Championship and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, they are members of the famous club, with Harrington labelling it as his “favourite course in the world.”
All of Ireland’s major winners backed the bid to bring the competition to Portrush and have welcomed the decision.
“Royal Portrush is one of the best courses in the world and to have the Irish Open there and play my first European Tour event in Northern Ireland in front of home fans will be very special,” said McIlroy.
Reigning Open champion Clarke said: “I´m pleased for everybody in this part of the world, and the decision to come here reflects the amazing run this relatively small golf community has had in the last couple of years. Best of all, it will be great to sleep in my own bed during that week!”
The competition will be held on 28 June to 1 July, three weeks before the Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in England, also a links course.
It is expected to generate a strong field as in addition to the local and European contenders, a number of top American and Australian players may opt to play in preparation for the Open.
More than a third of the approximately 150 world’s true links courses are in Ireland and it is famous for having the best collection and for them being open for anyone to play.
Royal Portrush is among the finest in Ireland and the world.
It is spectacularly located at the edge of a beautiful holiday town on a mile-long peninsula extending into the Atlantic Ocean with panoramic views of the Causeway Coast towards Scotland and the Donegal hills towards the west.
The unique culture and heritage that can only be found in Ireland permeates the area with superb restaurants, quaint local pubs, a variety of accommodation offerings and dozens of other quality golf courses within easy reach, providing the perfect base for golfing tours as spectator or player.
World renowned attractions such as the Giants Causeway, the Old Bushmills Distillery and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge are also close by for visitors to explore.