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Rory McIlroy: 'Royal Portrush Open will be fantastic'

Last year's Open champion, Rory McIlroy, says it is "fantastic" that the tournament is returning to Northern Ireland in 2019 at Royal Portrush.

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy has said that Royal Portrush will be a "fantastic venue" for The Open in 2019.

It was confirmed this morning that the Northern Irish course would host the tournament later this decade and McIlroy, who hails from the same country, said that it is one of his favourite courses in the world.

"Royal Portrush is one of my favourite golf courses in the world," he told The Open's website. "I think it will be a fantastic Open venue."

Preparations are underway for new seventh and eighth holes on the Dunluce Links that will replace the current 17th and 18th holes.

"They are going to add a couple of new holes to the golf course and I think that will be a great addition and will make the course even stronger," added McIlroy, who won the tournament last year. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Another Northern Irishman, 2016 European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, said: "This is going to be absolutely huge for Northern Ireland and, indeed, Ireland as a whole.

"To have the world's biggest and best golf Championship played at such a fantastic venue as Royal Portrush, with all the passion that the Irish fans will bring to the event, is going to be amazing."

The 2019 edition will take place between July 18 and 21 and will be just the second time in the tournament's history that it has been staged outside of Scotland or England.

The other time was also at Royal Portrush in 1951, when Englishman Max Faulkner lifted the Claret Jug.

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The par 4, 5th hole (left) and the par 3, 6th hole on the Valley Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 25, 2009
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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