Two years on from hosting a historic Open Championship, Royal Portrush will welcome the cream of men’s amateur golf this week.
A record entry for the 2021 North of Ireland Amateur Open will see 300 players tee it up on the famous Dunluce Links and sister Valley Links courses for 5 days starting today and culminating on Friday this week.
After last year’s cancellation, and the 2019 edition taking place in Portstewart due to Portrush’s Open commitments, the North of Ireland returns to its traditional home for the first time in three years.
Speaking ahead of the event, Competition Director Kevin Stevens said he was amazed by the level of interest in this year’s competition.
“Normally we would expect about 420 entries for the event. That would leave 120 on the waiting list, but to have over 520 entries was astounding.
“We’re privileged to be able to use both courses at Royal Portrush this year, and we’re delighted to be back at the club after such a successful Open Championship.
With 300 players set to feature over the two courses in the first two days, Stevens paid tribute to the Golf Ireland staff and volunteers who will be working to make the competition such a success.
“The effort put in by our volunteers is amazing, when we have two courses running concurrently. It’s double the effort, but they do it very willingly, and with great skill. It’s a testament to them, of how well the Championship runs each year.
After last year’s cancellation (the first since the tournament began in 1947), Stevens is delighted to have the tournament return.
“It’s amazing to be back. The North of Ireland was originally a Royal Portrush competition, so we’re delighted to be home as far as this competition is concerned.”
The stacked field is led by 2019 champion Arron Edwards-Hill (Chelmsford GC), and his 2018 predecessor Ian Lynch (Rosslare GC).
All 300 players will play a round of Stroke play on both the Dunluce and Valley Links, before the top-64 enter the Matchplay section of the competition on Wednesday, with the winner being crowned on Friday evening.