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Land of Open Dreams

'It's going to be very special': McDowell thrilled that the Open is coming back to Portrush

The Royal and Ancient is set to make the big announcement on Monday.

GRAEME MCDOWELL WAS thrilled by the news that Royal Portrush is set to be named as a future British Open host course.

The course, a familiar tract for both McDowell and two-time major winner Rory McIlroy, is expected to be announced as host of the 2019 Open on Monday.

The Royal and Ancient is also set to add the Antrim club — which hosted the most recent Open staged in Northern Ireland back in 1951 — to the regular rotation of host venues.

“Beautiful. That’s extremely exciting,” McDowell said when he heard the news.

The 2010 US Open winner had just fired a two-under 68 at Pinehurst that left him in a share of second after the first round of this year’s US Open.

“I’ve been kind of hesitant to comment because I really didn’t want to take anything away from the official announcement,” McDowell said.

“I’m very proud of where I grew up. I’m very proud of the tradition and history there and to bring an Open Championship back to Northern Ireland is very special.

It speaks volumes about how far the country has come. It’s going to be a very special thing for Northern Ireland and Ireland in general.

Now McDowell has to put himself in position to play in the event.

“I just hope I’m exempt and playing well,” he said.

“I guess it’s been a dream of mine as a kid. I’ve been out there, spent many an hour out there as a kid, and dreaming of playing major championships.

“And to have a major championship come to Portrush, the Open Championship, is special stuff.”

McDowell joked that the move was the result of “gentle ribbing” of R and A officials in recent years by himself, McIlroy and compatriot Darren Clarke.

“Nice to see the fruits of our labor, I suppose,” he said.

- © AFP, 2014

McDowell in second place as Kaymer’s late charge helps him to US Open lead

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