The 148th Open Championship was a roaring success as Royal Portrush proved itself a superb host, having waited almost seven decades for the honour.
For the first time since 1951 the Open returned to Northern Ireland and the Dunluce Links emphatically rose to the occasion.
The addition of two new holes bolstered the challenge of an already demanding course, while the arrival of high winds and heavy rain on Sunday ensured it was a true test of links golf.
After welcoming sell-out crowds and crowning a hugely popular winner in the shape of Shane Lowry, one thing is clear – it should not be another 68 years until Royal Portrush stages another Open Championship!
Here are five reasons why the world’s oldest major should be back here as soon as possible.
HUGE CROWDS (AND NOISY TOO!)
The Open draws huge numbers wherever it is held, but this year’s tournament was the second best attended in history.
Almost 240,000 fans poured in to watch the action over four days, with only St Andrews having seen more for an Open.
Add in the fact noise levels were off the charts and you have a compelling case already.
— The Open (@TheOpen) 19 July 2019
THE PLAYERS LOVED IT
One after another the players showered this venue with praise.
Tiger Woods called it an “unbelievable golf course”, while Darren Clarke was one of many to point out how “fair” the track was, rewarding good shots and punishing bad ones.
It is quite apparent that if players had their way, The Open would be back here sooner rather than later.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 21, 2019
IT’S ‘THE BRITISH OPEN’
Americans call this competition ‘The British Open’ and the courses on its rotation should truly reflect that fact.
England and Scotland have been hogging the tournament for too long and, with one edition every year, there is plenty of scope to make a trip to Northern Ireland a more regular occurrence.
It could even open up new avenues, with one reporter having asked R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers when the championship was heading to Wales…
TO BUILD A LEGACY
This year’s tournament has provided a huge boost to the local economy and put Portrush firmly on the map.
But what really needs to happen now is for all the hard work to be cemented by the prompt arrival of another Open Championship.
This should not stand as a one-off, but the start of an era when the Claret Jug makes regular appearances in Northern Ireland.
— The Open (@TheOpen) 18 July 2019
MCILROY WASN’T READY…
Rory McIlroy winning The Open was the great story everybody was waiting to see unfold.
Alas, it never happened, nor ever looked likely to from the moment his opening tee shot went out of bounds.
He needs another chance to do himself justice at an Open on home soil.