It’s been a long wait – either 12 months or 68 years depending on your perspective – but The 148th Open has finally arrived in Northern Ireland.
Royal Portrush has opened its doors to host an Open for the first time since 1951 and by Sunday evening we’ll know who has followed Francesco Molinari to be named Champion Golfer of the Year.
Practice Day 1 on Sunday saw many of the world’s best golfers descend on Antrim and start to get to grips with the challenge ahead – which, as ever, meant plenty of entertainment for the fans on hand.
Twelve months on from a successful debut at Carnoustie, The Open Notebook also makes a welcome return to steer you through some of the wackier daily goings on at Royal Portrush – so sit back and enjoy.
Graeme the guide
As a Portrush native, Graeme McDowell is likely to be one of the more popular men at the venue this week – with both fans and fellow players alike.
The gregarious Northern Irishman know the course like the back of his hand – he claims to have shot scores as wide-ranging as 62 and 103 on the Dunluce links over the years – and world No.2 Dustin Johnson was quick to try and tap into some of that local knowledge.
Don’t embarrass me, Dad!
Dads are supposed to embarrass their children, it’s essentially their job, and the look on Xander Schauffele’s face as his always-entertaining father Stefan was interviewed on the driving range suggests you’re never too old to be mortified by your parents.
The 25-year-old was a runner-up at Carnoustie 12 months ago and will fancy his chances of another good week this year but we want to hear more from Stefan!
Bring the Beef
Crowds at Royal Portrush this week be able to pull out another iconic chant after Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston secured one of the three Open spots on offer at the Scottish Open on Sunday evening.
It’s been a tough season for the popular Englishman, and he was understandably emotional after earning a return to The Open for the first time since 2017.
Fittingly for golf’s original Championship, Beef is certainly an original and Portrush is guaranteed to be a more entertaining place with his presence.
Isi kind of magic
There’s no video trickery with this one – we promise.
Mexican golfer Isidro Benitez was getting to grips with the Portrush fairways and opted to take a ‘hand wedge’ – throwing the ball down towards the green to test how the course was running.
Jason has a great Day
Drives for show, putts for dough.
If that old maxim is true then things are boding very well for Australia’s Jason Day this week, whose flat-stick already appears to be on fire as early as Practice Day 1.
The challenge ahead
The beauty of returning to a course that hasn’t hosted The Open since 1951 is that most players will be taking it on in a competitive setting for the first time – providing an air of mystery.
The Northern Irish stars may know the iconic Dunluce links well but most of the field will be setting eyes on Royal Portrush for the first time when they arrive this week.
It truly is a stunner though and we compiled some of the best quotes about it from those who know her well – Portrush in their own words.