Portrush attendance 2nd highest in British Open history

'I'm trying to picture the crowd as a Ryder Cup crowd'

"If we can have a great week this week, have a successful tournament, which seems inevitable at this point, I think get the Open Championship back here in the near future, I think the spinoffs for golf in Ireland in general is huge". The American has finished first-second-first-second in the last four and, with local man Ricky Elliott on his bag, he's likely to be there or thereabouts once again when we get down to the nitty gritty at the
weekend.

"I had an RNLI charity fundraiser Monday morning, I had committed to that", said Graeme McDowell. It can play so many different ways, depends on the wind, what it does.

Darren Clarke admitted is was more emotional than he thought it was going to be when he stepped on to the first tee at Royal Portrush this morning.

The last of Phil Mickelson's five majors came at The Open in 2013 but he has missed six cuts in his past 10 tournaments this year and has taken drastic action in a bid to find some form. "He was kind of light".

"I haven't had a lot of time".

"Portrush had always been on the R&A's radar as a wonderful golf course", said Peter Dawson, the former chief executive of the R&A, the Open organizer. "And fingers crossed, we'll be back pretty soon".

Koepka's fellow big-hitting American Dustin Johnson is second in the rankings and has three top-10 Open finishes to his name but he missed the cut past year and Portrush's Dunluce course is likely to resist being overpowered.

It's comes as no surprise then that the four-time major victor, who claimed the Claret Jug at Hoylake back in 2014 and has finished T5-T4-T2 in the last three Open Championships, is the betting favourite this week.

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"I have really tried the last few days to double my normal patience levels at a tournament and embrace the fact that people want pictures and autographs and just go with whatever everybody wanted". I sort of was anxious, I got here last Saturday thinking the course is going to change, the setup for an Open might be different. "Finishing second sucks. It really does".

Of all the home players at Royal Portrush this week, only one of them was actually born and brought up in the town, and if he hadn't qualified for the event, he'd have had to go somewhere - anywhere - else.

And like many great champions in all sorts of sports, Koepka is full of self-belief heading into the final major of the season.

Northern Ireland's past troubles, of course, played a part in the R&A not considering coming back here until now for the Claret Jug event, but, after a phenomenal run of success by Irish players in majors, it simply had to happen and, boy, are we in for a treat in the 148th edition.

"Over the last year-and-a-half, I just felt like if other guys had done what I had done, it would be a bigger deal".

"And I think as well it will be a massive thing for the country". Now, it doesn't matter to me.

"And it's weird, the fog started to lift a little bit. It just doesn't move quite as fast when it's a little bit cooler", he said.

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