The 148th Open Royal Portrush
Royal Portrush
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A profile

Moving Day at The 148th Open is finally here and players and fans alike are eagerly excited.

This is the second time the Claret Jug has come to the shores of Northern Ireland, following Max Faulkner's win in 1951.

But one thing is almost certain...it's unlikely to be 51 years until it's back.

Royal stamp

Founded in 1888, Royal Portrush was originally known as The County Club.

The course then became the Royal County Club three years later under the patronage of the Duke of York, George V, serving as the King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from 1910 until 1936.

Three years on, the course assumed its present name under the patronage of Edward VII, the Prince of Wales.

The club is steeped in history with the Dunluce Course record currently held by a certain Rory McIlroy, who shot a 61 in 2005 in the North of Ireland Championship. Will we see that record beaten this year?

Rory's 61

68 years of waiting

We may have waited almost 70 years for an Open return to Royal Portrush but the cast of 2019 will hoping to replicate the drama that unfolded in 1951.

The winner itself certainly knew how to attract attention. Englishman Max Faulkner was a flamboyant character, donning brightly coloured clothes and certainly stood out from the crowd as he blitzed the course.

Faulkner had actually been a runner-up at the course on two occasions in the Irish Open but he made it third time lucky in 1951.

Rumour has it that the golfer was asked to sign an autograph after his magnificent 70 in round three with the words “Open Champion” for a young boy upon the request of his father.

He would shoot a 74 in the final round to hold off Antonio Cerda and clinch the Claret Jug.

Two new holes

Regularly ranked inside the top five links golf courses in the world, Royal Portrush will no doubt present a real challenge of skill and guile for anyone looking to win the Claret Jug.

The course itself will be similar, although not identical, to the one Faulkner conquered in 1951.

But one thing we can look forward to is two new holes that have been created with the Dunluce Course now standing at 7,344 yards.

The new 7th and 8th holes utilised land from the adjacent Valley Course for a new par five, playing down into the valley encompassing that course’s 6th hole, and then a par four, playing back over the 5th hole into some beautiful duneland.

Both holes have an immediate air of maturity using some of the most stunning land at Royal Portrush. They have replaced the current 17th and 18th holes on the Dunluce Links, freeing up that land to be used to accommodate the Spectator Village and Championship infrastructure.

Five new bunkers have been installed, taking the overall total to 64.

Setting a stage

Royal Portrush certainly knows how to put on a show.

The course has hosted more than 50 national championships, British and Irish, in its 130-year history and is ready to add to that collection this week.

The Dunluce Course, named after the 13th-century Dunluce Castle which is a famous monument in the area, held the first ever professional tournament in Ireland, run by the club in 1895.

Surroundings

Portrush has been transformed from an erstwhile fishing village into a world-famous holiday resort and golf at Royal Portrush has been front and centre of that revolution.

You certainly won’t be disappointed by a visit to county Antrim for a weekend of golfing excellence but also the surrounding area.

The course is just seven miles from the iconic Giant’s Causeway, an area of more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, and one of the greatest natural wonders in the UK.

The World Heritage Site is frequently visited by tourists and is just a stone’s throw from where the 148th winner of the The Open will be crowned.

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