Royal Portrush Golf Club was today confirmed to have been added to the Open rota, with a potential date for the tournament in 2019.  Golf’s oldest and most international Major was last played at Royal Portrush in 1951.

Speaking after meeting with the R&A at Royal Portrush Golf Club, the First Minister Peter Robinson said: “This is wonderful news, not only for Royal Portrush Golf Club, but for the whole of Northern Ireland, with an estimated combined tourism promotion and economic return of £70million.”

“The decision to bring The Open back to Northern Ireland is a tremendous vote of confidence in the game here and follows the huge success of the Irish Open in 2012, the first in European Tour history to sell out.

“Today’s announcement recognises that Northern Ireland not only has some of the world’s greatest golfers, but some of the world’s greatest golf courses.

“The return of The Open to Portrush will once again provide Northern Ireland with a valuable opportunity to prove our ability to organise major sporting events as demonstrated in May when we hosted the Grande Partenza of Giro d’Italia and last year’s hugely successful World Police and Fire Games.

“The R&A’s decision to invite Portrush to join The Open rota is a ringing endorsement of Northern Ireland and I know we will deliver an event that we can all be proud of.”

The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “I welcome the official confirmation today by the R&A that the Open will return to Royal Portrush. This announcement will create much anticipation and excitement as the thought of our local golfers challenging for the Claret Jug on home soil is set to become a reality.

“The success of our local golfers has played a significant role in putting us on the international golfing map as an established destination and hosting The Open will add to this. We have proven we have got what it takes when it comes to hosting major events. From the record breaking Irish Open in 2012 to this year’s Giro d’Italia Big Start, acknowledged by the organisers as the best yet, our track record speaks for itself.

“Hosting The Open will leave a lasting imprint on Royal Portrush and I wish everyone involved in the planning and preparation every success and assure them of the full support of the Executive.”

Joining other established locations like St. Andrews, Royal Birkdale and Turnberry on The Open rota means that Northern Ireland’s golfing product will be showcased to a worldwide audience.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster added: “Over 4,000 hours of television and radio coverage were broadcast from last year’s event at Muirfield. The Open’s arrival on the north coast will tell the world what we already know – that not only is Northern Ireland home to three Major winning golfers, it is home to some of the best courses on the planet. A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to make today’s announcement possible and I want to thank everyone who has been involved.

“We know there is work to be done ahead of The Open but we will pull out all the stops to ensure that – just as we did with the Irish Open – Northern Ireland will stage a world class event that will be long remembered by players and spectators alike.”