Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Joy at Ryder Cup hero's home club

Europe's Graeme McDowell celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup
Europe's Graeme McDowell celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell has been elevated to legendary status at his hometown golf club as fans and friends pledged to drink the bar dry in honour of his dramatic match-winning performance.

Only months after Rathmore Golf Club in Portrush held the biggest party in its history when the Northern Irish golfer won the US Open championship, members were gearing up for another epic bash after their favourite son clinched the sport's most coveted trophy for Europe in heart-stopping fashion.

It was a very different scene inside the packed clubhouse in the closing stages of the nerve-shredding encounter as McDowell played the last few holes at Celtic Manor in Wales, knowing he had to win to deliver victory for the Europeans against the USA.

"It was just electric, I've never seen an atmosphere like it," said bar manager Jim Blee.

"I didn't want it to come down to the last match but I knew if it did Graeme would have the guts to do it. And boy did he do it."

The club erupted when McDowell holed a crucial 12ft birdie putt at the 16th against American Hunter Mahan and the champagne corks popped minutes later as the US star conceded the match on the next hole.

"The US Open was massive but I think today has put Graeme into another stratosphere," said Mr Blee.

The 31-year-old may be born and bred in Portrush but he's not the only Ryder Cup star with links to the famous golfing seaside town.

Young Co Down tyro Rory McIlroy, who won a point and a half as McDowell's partner earlier in the contest and secured a vital half against Stewart Cink in the singles, holds the course record 61 at Royal Portrush.

Co Tyrone-born European vice captain and former team stalwart Darren Clarke is an honorary member at the same famous links course.

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