ORLANDO, FLORIDA | Imagine the Open Championship being played in your hometown – your home country – for the first time in more than 70 years and, as a professional golfer, being forced to stand on the outside and look in.
That’s where Graeme McDowell finds himself these days as the clock ticks closer to the Open Championship’s long-awaited return to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland this July.
This is no ordinary Open Championship, not that any of them are ordinary. But this one is different, parameter-expanding, taking the race for the Claret Jug away from England and Scotland, for the first time since 1951 when Max Faulkner won at Royal Portrush.
One of the reasons the Open is finally going back to Northern Ireland is McDowell.
Along with Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, McDowell’s success as a player and then his committed devotion to persuading the R&A to bring the Open to Portrush was critical to getting it there. It wasn’t the only reason – new roads were built and new holes were constructed – but McDowell understood how much what will happen in July means to Portrush, to Northern Ireland and to the Open itself.
“... it's going to be a special summer, if I can get myself there. ... I just got to get out of my own way and have a little fun with it and not have things like that rattle around in my head too much.” - Graeme McDowell, on trying to qualify for the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush in his native Northern Ireland
Now, if he can o...
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