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Graeme McDowell


Portrush Open would be 'proudest' moment

Graeme McDowell at the 141st Open Championship

He’s a Major winner and a three-time Ryder Cup champion, but Graeme McDowell knows that teeing off at The 148th Open in Portrush would be the highlight of a glittering career.

Golf’s oldest Major returns to the Northern Irishman’s homeland for the first time since 1951, pulling up at the 39-year-old’s home course on 14 July.

And after four years of struggles were ended when McDowell claimed his first tournament win since 2015 at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship back in March, the 2010 US Open winner is now allowing himself to fantasise after missing out on The Open for the last two years.

"It's my dream to be there on the back nine on the Sunday afternoon and be in touching distance,” he admitted.

"It may be the proudest moment of my life being patriotic about where I am from.

"Having The Open come there and having the best players in the world come to Portrush, with millions and millions of people across the world watching the beautiful scenes from the north coast of Ireland.

“It’s the biggest sporting event Northern Ireland has ever seen: The Open Championship for the first time since 1951. All the history and everything that goes with being part of bringing the event back there.

“It's my dream to be there on the back nine on the Sunday afternoon” Graeme McDowell

“It goes without saying that I’ll do absolutely everything I can. I’m going to have to play well and that’s just the bottom line.”

Born in the very same town, the name of which has become so synonymous with its famous course, McDowell was granted life-long membership at the club back in 2002 after winning his first professional European Tour event.

Now living in America, McDowell is nevertheless inextricably tied to his Portrush roots, proud of the work that he and his compatriots have done in helping to heal wounds through difficult times across the border.

And he is sure that the arrival of The Open will only serve to further bring his country together.

“I’m proud of what sport’s able to do for the island of Ireland,” he continued.

“I’ve always been proud of what golf does for both north and south of Ireland.

“People love golf, love what we do, how we represent the golfing island of Ireland all over the world.

“I think having The Open Championship coming back after all these years is a huge moment, so hopefully we can use it going forward to really grow the peace and really make the people of Ireland happy.

“It may be the proudest moment of my life being patriotic about where I am from” Graeme McDowell

"For the first time in my life it may be something that I am very, very patriotic about."

Currently ranked 115 in the world, McDowell faces an uphill battle if he is to make it to The 148th Open Championship, but is willing to exhaust all methods and do everything it takes to be on that tee box at the first.

With a big couple of months ahead of him, ranking points are a must, while he has also entered final Open qualifying at St Annes Old Links as he prepares for a hectic schedule.

And while he concedes that it would be a truly heartbreaking blow to miss out, McDowell is backing himself to deliver.

"I'm not sure I could be there for the week if I don't make it,” he said.

"I'm sure I will have TV and corporate opportunities to be there, but it would be really difficult if I wasn't playing.

"I have a few commitments that I have to fulfil early in the week, but if I'm not in the tournament then I might just do those and get out of there.

"I don't think I could watch the best players in the world because I don't just want to be playing – I want to be there and be competitive. All the Guinness in the world couldn't keep me there if I wasn't playing.

“I am very confident of getting there. I want to keep my head down, play hard for the next couple of months and get myself in the tournament.”