Royal Portrush ready to host first major in 68 years

Royal Portrush ready to host first major in 68 years

Local hero Darren Clarke will take the honour of hitting the first shot of The Open at Royal Portrush on Thursday, as Northern Ireland hosts the prestigious tournament for the first time in 68 years. Darren Clarke tees off the fifth at Royal Portrush (David Davies/PA) Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy hit his first tee shot out of bounds at Royal Portrush.

He hasn't done himself justice in his three appearances at golf's oldest major, finishing 59th and 44th before missing the cut at Carnoustie previous year, but a second Irish Open win at Lahinch two weeks ago made him feel good about his links game once again.

Clarke birdied the hole for good measure to become the first official leader of the 148th Open Championship.

In the same year that the Good Friday Agreement was signed, the golfing prodigy was winning his first worldwide title, the 9-10 World Championship at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami, USA.

"I can't tell you (why) honestly", the 24-year-old Spaniard said.

The citizens of Northern Ireland aren't the only ones ecstatic for The Open's return.

"The golf course is fast enough, even if you don't have the speed to carry the ball".

Sun, sea, sand, and a 50-metre cliff at the signature 14th hole, Terravista golf course is one of the most scenic golf courses in South America. And I think if you can look at the bigger picture, it sort of takes a little bit of the pressure off.

Flamboyant Englishman Max Faulkner was awarded £300 and the Claret Jug the last time it was held at Portrush, which is just a few miles down the coast from the Giant's Causeway.

And maybe it's what will turn this most fiery of golfers into a major champion this week at Royal Portrush.

McIlroy won his fourth and most recent major at the 2014 PGA Championship, the same year he won his only Open title at Royal Liverpool.

"It's a huge thing to have it back here and it's going to be an wonderful tournament".

Molinari will play alongside Bryson DeChambeau of the United States and Adam Scott of Australia on Thursday and Friday.

His chip left him with a lengthy putt to save par but he was short and ensured he went to five-over par, placing him one off the bottom of the leaderboard after three holes. There is a big bunker on that flank that requires a 300-yard carry.

"I know that going into the Open as the defending champion will be a different experience, and I wanted to save as much energy as possible", he said, according to the Daily Mail.

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