Belfast Telegraph

Graeme McDowell town set for victory party

A seaside town in Northern Ireland is preparing to throw the mother of all parties for US Open champion Graeme McDowell.

Members of his home club at Rathmore, Portrush, celebrated long into the night as the 30-year-old won by a shot on a dramatic final day at Pebble Beach, California, to land his first major.

He was the first European to triumph in the tournament for 40 years and Rathmore club captain Colin Walker said members are ecstatic.

"It is massive. We have come through as a country such doom and gloom over the years it is great that we have another sporting hero," he said.

"He is up there with the rest, if not above them, and this is a major achievement for golf here in Northern Ireland and for Irish golf. Last night was totally unreal, the euphoria in the club."

McDowell, who won his first tournament in 2002, has been at Rathmore since age eight or nine and was coached by his uncle Uel Loughery as a junior at the club, which is just yards from the house where Fred Daly was born. Daly, a member of Royal Portrush club, won the Open in 1947

Mr Walker said his brother Gary won Sunday's Open week competition at Rathmore and added that it was a good omen.

The victor is expected back in Northern Ireland later this week after appearing on the Jay Leno talk show in the US.

He will be returning to set up a round of drinks at his home club before he prepares for the Open Championship at St Andrews, Scotland, next month.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said it was an outstanding achievement, adding: "I would like to offer Graeme my sincerest congratulations on becoming the first golfer from Northern Ireland to win a major since 1947. I am sure that there will be more major victories to come."

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