Players rave about Royal Portrush at British Open: 'It's as good as it gets'

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Players rave about Royal Portrush at British Open: 'It's as good as it gets'

2019 British Open

Players rave about Royal Portrush at British Open: 'It's as good as it gets'

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Outgoing British Open champion Francesco Molinari has given Royal Portrush the ultimate compliment on its first return to the Open rota after a 68-year absence: there have been no complaints.

“The greatest compliment is that all the feedback I’ve heard from the players has been positive and, especially on a links course, that’s not something you often hear,” said Molinari, who finished his year as Champion Golfer with a closing 5-under 66.

Molinari is not alone in saying Royal Portrush has been flawless for the 148th Open Championship. Jim Furyk and Paul Casey also believe the golf course has stood up to the world’s elite.

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MORE: When will The Open return to Portrush?

“I like the golf course,” said Furyk, who was making his 22nd appearance in the game’s oldest championship. “I don’t think it suited any particular style. I felt like it gave everyone a chance to play. It was mostly straightforward. There’s some blind shots, some hidden humps and bumps but you could figure out the golf course pretty quickly.

“If I can steal an Irish term, it’s a ‘proper’ links.”

Casey was making his 17th Open Championship appearance. He believes the Northern Irish course is the fairest he’s played, and wants to see the Open return sooner rather than later.

“I never really think links golf is fair, but this course is pretty close,” Casey said. “It’s as good as it gets. I would like to see the course used again on the Open rota very soon.

“From the golf course and the crowds alone, why would you not come back? It’s already been a massive success. It’s been the best Open I can remember for a long, long time in terms of atmosphere.

“This was something special. That first tee I experienced with Rory (McIlroy) on Thursday and again on Friday gave me goose bumps. That roar when he made the birdie on 16 on Friday to get within one shot of the cut was the biggest roar I’ve heard outside of a Tiger roar, or Ryder Cup roar.

“This course should definitely have another Open Championship soon.”

The R&A has named Open venues through 2022. Royal St. George’s hosts next year’s championship. St. Andrews is in line for 2021 to mark the tournament’s 150th playing. Royal Liverpool is set for three years from now. Many feel Muirfield is lined up for 2023. So Royal Portrush’s return is a matter of speculation. However, if player feedback is anything like that of Molinari, Furyk and Casey, then Northern Ireland will have to wait considerably less than 68 years for the Open’s return. How about 6-8 years?

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