McDowell wants Northern Ireland to host an Open


SANDWICH, England – Rory McIlroy’s victory at last month’s U.S. Open, the second consecutive year America’s national championship was won by a Northern Irishman, has ignited a groundswell of support for a British Open to be played in Ulster.

The last, and only, Open played in Ireland was in 1951 at Royal Portrush and many consider the ancient links the obvious choice for a return to the island, including Graeme McDowell who grew up playing the storied layout.

“The golf course is fantastic and it would be a dream of mine to play an Open there. That would be the ultimate,” McDowell said Tuesday at Royal St. George’s.

Before that, however, McDowell conceded the course would need to host a European Tour event, probably the Irish Open, and see an end to the decades-old violence that has defined the country.

There are also questions about whether the course has enough land to support the infrastructure that comes with a Grand Slam event.

“Could the golf course handle the grandstands and the routing to get 50,000 people about it? That’s one of the keys and (Royal & Ancient chief executive) Peter Dawson has told me that Portrush doesn’t have the surface area for it. I don’t know if that’s an excuse or what,” McDowell said.

The next available date for the Open Championship is 2015, although given the event’s traditional rotation that opening would likely go to St. Andrews.