The Open 2019: Portrush set to stay on Open rota - R&A

American pair Bubba Watson and JB Holmes on the fifth green at Royal Portrush
American pair Bubba Watson and JB Holmes on the fifth green at Royal Portrush
The 148th Open Championship, Royal Portrush
Dates: 18-21 July
Coverage: Live text updates and in-play clips on BBC Sport website, with live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and daily highlights on BBC Two.
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R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers says he expects Royal Portrush to remain on the Open rota "for many years to come".

Slumbers made the comment as it was announced the sold-out NI venue will attract the second biggest attendance in Open Championship history.

"I think by any stretch this week is a great success," said the R&A chief.

"Hoylake and Portrush are venues which are going to be used for the Open Championship for many years to come."

The R&A boss was speaking following former champion Padraig Harrington's suggestion earlier this week that consideration should be made to hosting future Open Championships outside the UK.

"We have 10 courses in the pool that we use for the Open Championship. We think that's 10 of the best links courses in the world and we are very happy with those 10 courses," continued Slumbers, who emphasised that the Donald Trump-owned Turnberry remains part of the Open rota.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers
Martin Slumbers is delighted with the build-up to the 148th Open Championship in Northern Ireland

"If you think back over the last few years, coming back to Carnoustie, going back to Hoylake were great successes."

On the theme of possible Open venues, Slumbers added that "it's not in my mind at all" to consider staging the championship at an inland venue.

"I think The Open is all about being played on the best links golf courses," he added.

This week's attendance figure, as the event returns to Portrush for the first time since 1951, will be 237,750 - 1,250 below the all-time record set at St Andrews in 2000.

"We are making history with a record attendance for a Championship staged outside of St Andrews and the levels of excitement among fans this week have been phenomenal," added the R&A chief.

This year's expected attendance surpasses the crowd of 235,000 who attended Royal Birkdale in 2017 and the 237,000 mark set at St Andrews in 2015.

Rory McIlroy tees off at the first hole during Open practice at Royal Portrush
NI's four-time major Rory McIlroy urged the R&A to bring the Open back to Royal Portrush

A record-breaking 61,000 fans have attended this week's practice days, which beats the previous high of 52,000 set at Hoylake in 2006.

The R&A boss played down any impact a loyalist bands concert being held in Portrush on Saturday evening will have the on the championship.

"There's always things going on around the golf and that's wonderful and the community carries on," he said.

"Our job is to put on the Open Championship and to respect the fact that we are guests."

With the R&A assuming control of the Women's British Open Championship next year, Slumbers added that "very careful consideration" was being given to the view that the major's title should also be the Women's Open Championship.