Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Golf [Print without images]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
R&A to visit Royal Porthcawl

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

The R&A for the first time will consider taking the Open Championship to Wales when it visits Royal Porthcawl next month in an effort to see if the venue is capable of staging golf's oldest championship.

The Daily Telegraph of London reported Tuesday that the club approved seeking the Open and that financial backing from the Welsh government is being discussed. The first available date on the Open schedule is 2017, although any such move is believed to be years away.

With the R&A paying a visit next month, Royal Porthcawl is hoping to become the first course in Wales to host the Open Championship.

Royal Porthcawl is staging next year's Senior Open Championship.

"As part of the discussions around bringing the Senior Open to Royal Porthcawl next year, the club stated its interest in being considered to stage the Open Championship," the R&A said in a statement to ESPN.com. "The R&A has agreed to visit the club. The R&A is very happy with the nine existing Open venues and there is no plan to add to the rota at this time."

Only once in the Open's history, which dates to 1860, has it been staged outside Scotland or England. That came in 1951, when the tournament went to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. With recent majors champions Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke hailing from Northern Ireland, there have been calls to bring the Open back to Portrush.

Logistical concerns have so far thwarted that effort and could also be a concern at Royal Porthcawl, which hosted the 1995 Walker Cup as well as six British Amateur Championships, the Curtis Cup and several European Tour events.

The Telegraph said that Carwyn Jones, Wales' First Minister, was interested in raising the country's profile as a tourist and business destination after the success of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

"We have already proven that Wales can host top quality, international golf events," Jones said. "We have the facilities, the venues, the infrastructure and, most importantly, the welcome that all add up to us being a great host country."

The Open, which was won by Phil Mickelson this year at Muirfield in Scotland, will be played next year at Royal Liverpool in England, where Tiger Woods was the winner when it was last played there in 2006.

Those are two of the nine venues in the rotation. The Open returns to St. Andrews (Scotland) in 2015 and to Royal Troon (Scotland) in 2016. The other Open venues being used are Royal St. George's, Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Birkdale in England, as well as Carnoustie and Turnberry in Scotland.