The 2019 Open: R & A was quickly convinced about Portrush says ex-chief Peter Dawson

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The Road to The Open – View on BBC One NI on Sunday evening

The Road to the Open

Date: Sunday, July 14 Excess baggage: BBC One Northern Ireland, 20:00 BST; Will be available on the BBC iPlayer

Former R&A chief Peter Dawson said the golf governing body needed little persuasion to bring the Open Championship back to Northern Ireland.

Speaking in a BBC NI movie that will be Dawson said on Sunday that negotiations with the Northern Ireland Executive in 2014 were "fairly short".

"There was no discussion about whether we should bring The Open," he said.

"Northern Ireland clearly wanted the championship as much as we wanted to bring it."

The Road to the Open, which will be on BBC One Northern Ireland on Sunday at 8:00 PM BST, will be broadcast four days before the major wave returns to the province and Royal Portrush after a 68-year period .

The program, told by the famous Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt, maps the work behind the scenes that over the past five years as part of a multi-million pound makeup of both location and the city of Portrush, in preparation for next week's championship.

The huge crowds at the Irish Open 2012 helped make the event a huge success

2012 Irish Open the & # 39; catalyst & # 39; says Dawson

Dawson says the end of the Northern Irish Troubles, followed by the Belfast agreement in 1998, opened the door to the R & A once again seen Royal Portrush as an Open location.

"Portrush had always been on the radar of the R & A as a beautiful golf course," added the ex-R & A chief

"The time passed and all kinds of for the For obvious reasons it was difficult to bring major events to Northern Ireland.

"The political and security climate was a major part of that for a long time. Even when those things improve, it takes a while to turn things around, but luckily those times have passed. "

Dawson recognizes the success of Irish players in majors of the past 12 years – kickstart by Padraig Harrington & # 39; s consecutive Open titles in 2007 and 2008 – helped the Portrush case, but says the successful staging of the Irish Open at the site in 2012.

By that time, Northern Ireland was golfing in a period of unparalleled success in its history with Graeme McDowell who landed the US Open in 2010 for the big wins 2011 by Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke during the US Open and Open Championship.

"There was a beautiful Irish Open in 2012 that I think was the real catalyst for it to happen. The Irish golf enthusiasts turned out to be huge and made it a huge success, "recalls Dawson, who resigned as R & A chief in 2015.

McIlroy recalls the firing of Portrush 61 16

Royal Portrush Secretary-Manager Wilma Erskine, prominent in Sunday's hour-long program, admits that even the number of people at the 2012 event that broke the existing European Tour record even condemned to club officials

" shocked us all, "said Erskine, who retires after 35 years in the role of Royal Portrush after the championship.

" We had the same number of people on the last day at the Irish Open as on the last day in The Open at Royal Lytham that year.

"The R & A also sent some mystery shoppers to see how it was set up and they were very impressed to see what we had achieved in such a short time."

Royal Portrush secretary manager Wilma Erskine has vowed to help make the next week's "best and most successful Open ever"

The Sunday program includes contributions from local heroes, McDowell, Clarke and McIlroy, who recalls it shooting an astonishing 61 as a 16-year-old at the Dunluce links at the Northern Ireland Amateur Championship in 2005.

"I remember every shot of that round," says McIlroy.

"It was the first time I" I once looked at the target and waved and the ball went there. "

Local fans hope McIlroy can finish a five-year winless run in majors by capturing upcoming home-victor, but Erskine is convinced that the championship will be a triumph regardless of who picks up the trophy.

"We're all going to make it the biggest, the best and the most successful (Open) ever and I think the R & A want to return here q soon. "

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