Last month, the PGA of America made news when CEO Pete Bevacqua publicly stated that the organization has discussed taking the PGA Championship overseas. PGA President Ted Bishop added to the story on Thursday morning when he mentioned a specific international setup that could be perfect for the season's final major; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
In what was undoubtedly a calculated move, Bishop dropped the name of the revered Northern Irish course on Golf Channel's Morning Drive (via Ryan Lavner):
"Royal Portrush would be a great first international major. I think given the powerful effect that Irish golfers have on the professional game today, that might be a good place to start."
Update: Here's video of Bishop discussing the potential international major on Golf Channel's Morning Drive:
Portrush has long been considered one of the world's best courses, a perfect links layout in Northern Ireland. The success of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and Darren Clarke has boosted Northern Irish golf back into the spotlight. Royal Portrush and Royal County Down are often cited as the two best layouts in a course-rich Ulster.
The layout, for several reasons (including "logistics" and "infrastructure" and nothing on the course itself), fell out of the Open Championship rota and has not hosted a major since 1951. There were some rumblings that the R&A was discussing a return of The Open to Portrush in the next decade, but Peter Dawson and company officially denied that it was currently in the plans. As Lavner notes, it did recently host tournament golf in the form of the 2012 Irish Open, which drew more than 100,000 fans. If the U.S. Open can return to Merion, let's get a major to Portrush.
With the recent R&A rumblings, this public mention is a bit of a power move by Bishop, who also recently made waves by pushing the PGA Championship's purse higher than any other major; a 25 percent increase to $10 million. If the PGA were to take things overseas, there would be several prime contenders, most notably Royal Melbourne in Australian. But a return to Portrush would be an enormous story and shine a big spotlight on a major that is sometimes criticized for lacking an identity.