Rory McIlroy heaps praise on “spectacular” Portrush ahead of The Open

Rory McIlroy is chomping at the bit to get to next week’s Open Championship back in his home, Northern Ireland.

The Northern Irishman still holds the course record for the old course, firing a sizzling 61 in 2005 as a 16-year-old. This year will also be the first time The Open returns to the course since 1951.

“It’s spectacular, it’s unbelievable…it’s certainly a different golf course than the golf course I grew up playing!” the world number three told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It’s bigger, it’s tougher and obviously all the infrastructure out there. I’ve been looking at pictures posted on social media and the place looked stunning, but to get out here and experience it has really been worthwhile.”

McIlroy went on to praise his fellow countryman such has Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and to a lesser extent Irishman Padraig Harrington (sorry Paddy, it’s not your fault you were born in Ireland.), who all helped put the nation on the golfing map thanks to their major championship victories.

“I’m proud to feel as if I’ve played some small part in getting The Open Championship to Northern Ireland,” continued the four-time major winner.

“The success of Darren, Graeme, myself and Padraig as well was part of the reason why the R&A wanted to come here, and also the work done by the [club general manager] Wilma Erskine and the people of Portrush.

“There’s a lot of people that can be proud of themselves that The Open is at Royal Portrush.”

The 148th Open Championship tees off at Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim on July 18, where Francesco Molinari will look to defend his title.