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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020

McIlroy proud to have 'played some small part' in bringing The Open to Portrush

The home favourite is relishing a crack at the County Antrim links next week.

Can McIlroy win his second Claret Jug in Northern Ireland?
Can McIlroy win his second Claret Jug in Northern Ireland?
Image: Getty Images

RORY MCILROY IS relishing the prospect of competing for The Open championship title in the ‘spectacular’ surroundings of Royal Portrush.

The four-time Major winner, who shot a course-record 61 there at the age of 16, will be the home favourite at the links in Northern Ireland, which he says has improved significantly since his younger days.

And the 30-year-old is excited to launch his bid for a second Claret Jug next week, having triumphed in the world’s oldest Major in 2014.

“It’s spectacular, it’s unbelievable. It’s certainly a different golf course than the golf course I grew up playing,” McIlroy told The Belfast Telegraph.

“It’s bigger, it’s tougher and obviously all the infrastructure out there.

“I’ve been looking at pictures posted on social media and the place looked stunning, but to get out here and experience it has really been worthwhile.”

McIlroy is one of his country’s most famous exports and he recognises that his exploits, alongside those of Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington, have played a role in bringing The Open to Portrush for the first time since 1951.

Source: The Open/YouTube

“I’m proud to feel as if I’ve played some small part in getting The Open to Northern Ireland,” he said.

“The success of Darren, Graeme, myself and Pádraig as well was part of the reason why the R&A wanted to come here, and also the work done by the [club general manager] Wilma Erskine and the people of Portrush.

“There’s a lot of people that can be proud of themselves that The Open is at Royal Portrush.”

Meanwhile, the R&A have today extended their broadcasting partnership with Sky Sports for a further three years. As part of the new agreement, Sky Sports will continue to show live coverage of The Open through to 2024. 

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