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‘Graeme McDowell was a natural athlete... he stood out’

By Will Ellison

School teachers who saw US Open winner Graeme McDowell take his first swings to stardom say he was not only a natural sportsman, but a clever lad too.

And although he finished his education at the University of Alabama he has not forgotten his roots.

Last year he was home to open the new Carnalridge Primary School in Portrush on the site of the old school which the 30-year-old — known as G-Mac —attended until 1990.

But to do so the warm-hearted star requested that he hold a question and answer session with the 190 pupils.

Principal David Millar, who taught G-Mac, said: “The kids were very impressed when he opened the new school. He took the time to sign lots of autographs, golf balls and putters.

“When he agreed to come and open the school he said he wanted to do a question and answer session with the children. He was keen to meet the kids — not just the adults.

“He was only scheduled to talk with the kids for half-an-hour but that went on for an hour-and-a-half.

“He left a big impression on the staff and pupils and a lot of them have been following his career since.

“A few of the kids were keen to take up the game after meeting him and it is lovely to have a mentor like Graeme McDowell, but it is a bit early to say if any of them will be following in his footsteps.”

Mr Millar added: “He's definitely our most famous former pupil to date.

“He was a natural athlete, a lovely fellow and good academically. He was a good all-rounder.”

After leaving primary school the young MacDowell then went up the road to Coleraine Academical Institute where his ability for golf took precedence over other sports and he was soon playing off a handicap of two at the age of 14.

PE teacher Stephen Graham said: “He was here for seven years. He took part in other sports but he stood out as a golfer from an early age.

“He really didn't have time for other sports like rugby because he was on the golf course every Saturday.

“Academically he was very good as well — he was a three A student at A-level.”

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