Northern Ireland's first Major champion, the late great Fred Daly, would be extremely proud that the Irish Open is being staged at Royal Portrush, according to his son Robin.
Fred, from Portrush, famously won The Open at Hoylake in 1947 and was our only major winner until Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke brought two US Open titles and a Claret Jug home.
Daly (pictured) passed away in 1990, aged 79, leaving a great golfing legacy. His son Robin, himself a former professional golfer, says that Fred would have loved seeing the Irish Open back on this side of the border for the first time since 1953, when it was staged at Fred's own club, Belvoir Park.
“Dad would have been very proud to see the Irish Open being played here and he would have loved the fact that we have so many good golfers from Northern Ireland competing this week, including three major champions in Darren, Graeme and Rory,” said Robin, standing by the practice putting green outside the clubhouse.
“When the three lads won those major championships their successes meant so much to everyone here, it was like Northern Ireland winning the World Cup three times!”
Last year in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Robin tipped Clarke to be a contender at The Open. With predictions like that, it's worth asking who he thinks will win the 2012 Irish Open.
“Graeme McDowell would be hard to pass,” added Robin, who tomorrow night will be launching the new Fred Daly Golf peanut putter range at the Adelphi Hotel in Portrush.
“He is obviously in good form after finishing second in the US Open, so he is clearly one to look out for. It's hard to pick a winner though because you have a good field and a lot will depend on the conditions. Hopefully a local man will win it. Everyone in Northern Ireland would love to see that.”
As for a man to watch, Robin picks out his namesake.
“Along with the local lads I think John Daly will be certainly be worth watching — even the colours that the man wears would attract you. He is one who will be very exciting for all the spectators.”
There are many hoping that the Irish Open could lead to The Open coming back to Portrush, which hosted the 1951 event. Robin says: “Hopefully it can be a forerunner to The Open. I would love to see the Open come here in the future.
“It's booked up in advance for the next few years but this is a good tester. I believe Portrush will cope well with this week and host a great tournament.”