Golf

Rory McIlroy highlights role of Ireland's major winners as Royal Portrush finalises Open preparations

Rory McIlroy hailed the part Ireland’s major winners have played in persuading the R&A to bring The Open back to Irish shores for the first time in 68 years.

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

“The success of Darren (Clarke), Graeme (McDowell), myself and Padraig (Harrington) 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.”

The Open makes its return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 when the world’s best golfers take to the famous Dunluce Links next week.

McIlroy, the 2014 Open champion, will be among the favourites to lift the Claret Jug on home soil, and the 30-year-old believes Royal Portrush is looking “spectacular” as it goes through its final preparations for the last major of the year.

“It’s spectacular, it’s unbelievable. It’s certainly a different golf course than the golf course I grew up playing!”

“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.”

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