Royal Portrush Golf Club will host the 2019 Open Championship with the event returning to the Northern Ireland venue for the first time in 68 years.

Organisers, the Royal & Ancient, said last year that Royal Portrush would host the event and they confirmed 18 to 21 July 2019 as the dates on Tuesday.

Golf’s oldest major will also be staged at Royal Portrush on two further occasions over the next 40 years.

The Open will be the biggest sporting event ever held in Northern Ireland.

It will be only the second time that the competition has been staged outside England or Scotland in the Championship’s 150-year history.

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Royal Portrush to host 2019 Open Championship

Representatives of the R&A were at the course on Tuesday morning to formally announce the details of the event, which is being supported by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Chairman of the championship’s organising committee, John Bamber, said that Tuesday’s announcement represented “one of the greatest days in the history of Royal Portrush”.

“We are all extremely delighted and excited and it’s great today to see the clock ticking to the Open Championship at Royal Portrush again,” said Mr Bamber.

“Very approximately, the Open will return here to Royal Portrush three times over the next 30 to 40 years and that will bring a huge economic benefit.

“Most of the independent financial surveys that are completed on the Open Championship would suggest that it brings something between £55m to £70m in the year of the Open to the wider community in the venue’s area.”

Calls for the Open to return to Northern Ireland reached a crescendo after Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Clarke all won major tournaments in recent years.

Rory McIlroy studies a putt at the 2012 Irish Open with Dunluce Castle in the background

2014 Open Champion Rory McIlroy can look forward to competing in the event in his native Northern Ireland

The successful staging of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 further strengthened the case for a return to the world-renowned seaside links.

The hosting of the event in 2019 depended on course and infrastructure changes to the venue being approved by club members and completed in good time for the championship.

The alterations were agreed by the club’s membership earlier this year which made the confirmation of the 2019 event a formality.

As the event operates on a rota basis, it means Royal Portrush will also get future tournaments after it initially hosts it in four years’ time.

Peter Dawson, who stepped down as secretary of the R&A in September, last year described Royal Portrush as “one of the world’s truly great links courses”, one with a “rich golfing heritage”.

England’s Max Faulkner won the Open during its only previous staging at the venue 64 years ago.