Portstewart to host Irish Open in 2021
Club will host the event for second time in four years after Jon Rahm won in 2017
Jon Rahm celebrates his victory at the 2017 Irish Open. Photo: Matt Mackey/Inpho
The cat, it would seem, has been let out of the bag. Although official confirmation from the European Tour awaits, possibly next week, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will return north of the border in 2021, after a three-year stretch of tournaments in the south.
Portstewart Golf Club – referred to by 2017 champion Jon Rahm as “arguably the most beautiful front nine I have ever played” – is set to be confirmed as the venue for two years time with former US Open champion Graeme McDowell considered the front-runner to play the role of tournament host.
Since staging the tournament in 2017 when Rahm was a hugely impressive winner, the DDF Irish Open has been staged at Ballyliffin in Donegal and this year at Lahinch in Co Clare. Next year’s staging will take place at Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny in May, deviating from the links swing of recent years.
However, the planned return of the Irish Open to links terrain in Portstewart in two years time is likely to see the tournament revert to a position in the tour schedule ahead of the Scottish Open and the 150th Open championship at St Andrews.
News of the tournament’s return to Portstewart was given to the club’s members at the annual general meeting on Thursday night, where it was revealed that negotiations between the club and the PGA European Tour had reached a successful agreement in recent weeks.
A spokesperson for the European Tour, however, declined to confirm Portstewart’s hosting of the 2021 tournament: “We have no comment to make on the speculation this morning. An announcement regarding the DDF Irish Open will be made in due course.”
The hugely successful hosting of this year’s British Open at Royal Portrush, where Shane Lowry capped an unbelievable week for Irish golf by lifting the claret jug, has showcased the region as a leading golfing destination. With the Open due to return to Portrush inside the next decade, the move to bring the Irish Open back to the area won’t come as any surprise.