Open Diary: Rory's triumph prompts thoughts of Ulster return

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The Independent Online

Is the success of Rory McIlroy forcing the Royal and Ancient to bend towards the notion of hosting an Open Championship in Northern Ireland? It certainly sounded like it yesterday.

Indeed four years after effectively ruling it out, championship organisers the R&A vowed to re-examine the possibility of a return to Royal Portrush after 60 years.

Said Peter Dawson, the governing body's chief executive: "Obviously there's much emotion about Graeme McDowell and Rory's US Open victories, and why don't we go back to Northern Ireland and perhaps Portrush in particular? You can't, however, base where you hold the Open on where players come from. I think that should be obvious to anyone."

Dawson went on to explain the obstacles confronting a bid. "Portrush is a terrific golf course and may well be strong enough for an Open, but as we all know, there are other issues of infrastructure, accommodation, roads, what would the commercial success or otherwise of the championship be, that need consideration," said Dawson.

"We aren't ruling it out by any stretch of the imagination, but it would have to meet all those criteria, and I don't think it's something that's going to be in any way imminent, but it's certainly something we'll have a look at again in view of the success of the golfers from that part of the world."

Murali gets extra help with Sri Lanka charity

As if Rory McIlroy needs to append any more plus marks to his reputation, the 22-year-old will make another Unicef trip later this year. But this time to Sri Lanka.

His manager, Chubby Chandler, is trying to tie the Ulsterman's visit to Muttiah Muralitharan's continued efforts to assist his battered homeland. Murali, the record-breaking spin bowler, is another of Chandler's clients in International Sports Management.

The details of McIlroy's second trip for the children's charity are still to be finalised but it is understood he plans to go to the sub-continent at the end of the year. McIlroy made a two-day trip to Haiti last month and credited the experience with helping him prevail at the next week's US Open.

Kelly has 11 reasons to dread teeing off first

There was better reason than normal to watch the first person tee off at Sandwich at 6.30am this morning. The honour fell to the popular Jerry Kelly, although to call it "dubious" is a gross understatement. Eight years ago Kelly happened to take an 11 on Royal St George's par-four first. Exactly how cruel are the Royal and Ancient.

Peak of links golf no place for a Pinnacle

Nick Stewart, the music industry veteran who signed U2, was the guest speaker at the Association of Golf Writers annual dinner on Tuesday night and provided a fine joke about the complexities of being a Royal St George's member. One should always remember the privileged company one is keeping while on the course.

The tale involved a new member who was playing with an established member. The latter pulls out his ball and says "I'm playing a Titleist 3," before dispatching it straight down the middle. The former then pulls out his ball and says "I'm playing a Pinnacle 2." To which the latter responds: "Just a word, old boy. When playing a Pinnacle, at Royal St George's, with a member, one needn't state a number."