Open Championship: R&A 'seriously looking' at staging major outside UK, says Rory McIlroy

McIlroy says the Portmarnock links would be a "fantastic" venue for the Open
McIlroy says the Portmarnock links would be a "fantastic" venue for the Open

Rory McIlroy believes the R&A is "seriously looking" at holding the Open Championship outside the United Kingdom for the first time.

The four-time major winner, who carded an opening 69 at the Irish Open on Thursday, says the Portmarnock course near Dublin could be a possible venue.

"Having a course that's so close to a major city, so close to a major airport, having a great golf course, I think it would be amazing," said McIlroy. "I think they are seriously looking at it."

The major is returning to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2025 and McIlroy argues staging it at Portmarnock "would be fantastic".

He added: "I was looking forward to Portrush but [concerned] in terms of how it would do commercially - there's so many other considerations to hosting a major championship apart from it being a great golf course."

Portmarnock is eligible to stage R&A events after voting in 2021 to admit women members for the first time in its history, with nine women elected as full members in December last year.

The course will host the 121st Women's Amateur Championship in 2024, although infrastructure and access could remain an issue for bigger events like the Open.

McIlroy is four shots behind K Club leader Shubhankar Sharma after a three-under round which included birdies at his final two holes.

Fellow Irishman Shane Lowry carded seven birdies and three bogies in a 68, while Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald also sits at four under.

Former Ryder Cup player and captain Thomas Bjorn shot an impressive 66, along with English pair Ross Fisher and Jordan Smith.