Irish Open set for Royal Portrush return

The Irish Open is set to make a return to Royal Portrush as early as 2015, BBC Sport understands.

European Tour organisers are keen to bring the tournament back to Northern Ireland after the record-breaking event on the north coast last year.

Royal County Down has also been sounded out as a possible venue for the tournament, but Royal Portrush is the favourite at this stage.

It's seen as another move in the right direction to help land the Open.

Royal Portrush hosted the Open in 1951 and there have been calls for the major to make a long awaited return to the County Antrim course.

The campaign to bring the Open back to Portrush has been led by Northern Ireland major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

Arguments against a return to Portrush include insufficient infrastructure, but the NI trio will play at the US Open this week on a site three times smaller.

Merion in Pennsylvannia is half the size of a normal US Open site.

"This is way more of a logistical nightmare putting the US Open here than putting the Open Championship at Portrush," said world number two McIlroy.

"Anyone who says that it (Portrush) doesn't have the infrastructure, that is it is not logistically accessible needs to come here and see that it can be done."

Meanwhile, Former US Open winner McDowell is delighted that the Irish Open is on course for a return to his home town.

"I'm very excited - it was such a great success in 2012," he said.

"It's a case of Portrush learning from any mistakes last year, in terms of making the operation slicker and more efficient.

"The crowds were massive and if we get it back in 2015, it is stating the case that we can run one of the biggest events in the world."

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