RICHARD Bland has offered his support to Royal Portrush becoming an Open Championship venue.

The Stoneham golfer competed at the County Antrim course last week, finishing the Irish Open in a tie for 18th.

There is significant momentum behind Portrush being restored to the Open roster by the Royal & Ancient.

It has held the major championship once before, in 1951, making it the only course outside of England and Scotland to have ever hosted the tournament.

And Bland believes the Northern Ireland venue deserves to be included in the rotation once again.

“It was just a great week regards the course, and the crowds were unbelievable,” he said. “It had a real Open feel to it.

“It’s just a stunning place, and it was a pleasure to play round there. If the Open went there it would only be a success.

“The crowds would be unbelievable, and they’ve got the infrastructure to do it.

“Hopefully the R&A have looked at last week and sat up and taken notice of it.”

Bland’s nine-under-par total at the Irish earned him €23,733 in prize money, taking his winnings for the year to €81,553.

That has moved him up to 131st in the Race to Dubai rankings, with a top 115 finish needed at the end of the season in order to secure his playing rights for 2013.

Bland will not make it into this week’s French Open, but is in the field for the Scottish Open next week.