The Irish Open golf tournament is set to follow Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke north of the border.
A press conference has been called for Friday afternoon when Royal Portrush will be confirmed as the venue for the 2012 Irish Open.
European Tour officials would only confirm on Thursday that the media briefing will include an announcement on the Irish Open.
The fact that it will be attended by British Open champion Darren Clarke suggests his home club will host the tournament in a ground breaking move next summer.
Royal Portrush is also in the running to host the British Open in the near future after the success of US Open winner McIlroy and Clarke last year.
The Irish Open is seen as a forerunner to the British equivalent, one of only four majors on the golfing calendar.
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The website www.irishgolfdesk.com has claimed that the press conference will confirm Royal Portrush as the winner of the contest to host the 2012 Irish Open ahead of Carton House and Killeen Castle, both near Dublin.
“The Irish Open could be about to make a shock return Royal Portrush this summer - 12 months earlier than planned,” wrote website publisher Brian Keogh.
“According to two sources connected with the event, the European Tour is believed to be preparing to make an announcement later this week after confirming before Christmas that the Irish Open would not be returning to Killarney for a third successive staging.
“Tour officials appeared to make it plain late last season that a return to the Dublin area was preferable for the Irish Open as it would make it easier for them to secure a title sponsor.
“Carton House in Co Kildare was considered by many to be the front runner to play host to US Open champion Rory McIlroy and Co for the first time since 2006 though tour officials insisted shortly before Christmas that nothing had been decided regarding the venue and there were many other courses interested in hosting.
“However, with McIlroy and Portrush residents Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell all now major winners, it is believed that the tour and the Northern Ireland government are keen to ride that momentum and bring forward plans to take the Irish Open back to Ulster for the first time since 1953.
“Royal Portrush wants to host the Open Championship itself and while that appears unlikely in the short term due to political and logistical reasons, the Irish Open is considered the logical test event for staging a major.”
The Irish Open, which will take place at the end of June this year, was last played at Portrush in 1947 when Harry Bradshaw triumphed on the famous Dunluce Links.
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