Rory McIlroy is relishing the prospect of competing for an 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 said in quotes reported by 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.”
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 10, 2019
McIlroy is one of his country’s most famous exports and he recognises that his exploits, alongside those of Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and the Republic of Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, have played a role in bringing The Open to Portrush for the first time since 1951.
“I’m proud to feel as if I’ve played some small part in getting The Open Championship to Northern Ireland,” he said.
“The success of Darren, Graeme, myself and Padraig 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.”