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Atmosphere electric: MLAs Foster and O'Neill hail historic Open at Portrush

PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019
Pictured: DUP Leader Arlene Foster with Wilma Erskine, secretary and manager of Royal Portrush Golf Club. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: DUP Leader Arlene Foster with Wilma Erskine, secretary and manager of Royal Portrush Golf Club. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

MLAs Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill have been enjoying the golf at Royal Portrush for The Open congratulating organisers and saying how beneficial it will be for Northern Ireland.

Both were at the north coast golf links on Saturday during the third round of the competition.

DUP leader Mrs Foster described it as one of the most "significant and proud moments in our wee country's history".

During her visit, she congratulated Wilma Erskine - Royal Portrush secretary-manager - on the success of the tournament.

"The crowds and cheers say it all - the atmosphere at The Open is electric," she tweeted.

"NI proud to host and Royal Portrush looks incredible."

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill described The Open as an "amazing event to have on our doorstep".

"A sporting spectacular with long term sporting and economic benefits to be enjoyed by all," she tweeted.

Several MLAs have attended the showpiece at the Co Antrim seaside town.

Mairtin O Muilleoir said it was a privilege to attend The Open. He congratulated Royal Portrush officials and organisers the R&A for a "fab global coup".

Ideal headgear for a soggy Sunday...
Ideal headgear for a soggy Sunday...
A full house enjoyed an enthralling first day at The Open Championship.
Danielle McCarthy, Marie McNeela, Lily McNeela, Ayda-Grace McCarthy (2), Iain McCarthy, Harris McCarthy (5), and Cohen McCarthy (7) enjoy the golf at Royal Portrush. Click through the images to see the best shots from the the third round at The Open. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Robert, George (4), and Kelly McFarland. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Pako Pim, Erin Pim (11), and Lesley Pim. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Chairperson of the ILGU Clodagh Hopkins, Dermot Furey, and President of the ILGU Brigid McCaw. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Mike Liall, Martin Roberts, Roy Pritchard from New Zealand, and Freddie Buxton. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Pako Pim, Erin Pim (11), and Lesley Pim. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Suzanna, Michelle, and Gavin (aged 6) Higgins. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Pacemaker - Belfast - -20/07/2019. Graeme Mc Dowellat The 148th Open at Royal Portrush Third round Saturday Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Douglas and Lewis (aged 4) Band. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Russell and Bernie McKenna, with Darragh, Sophie, and Tadhg McKenna. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: DUP Leader Arlene Foster with Wilma Erskine, secretary and manager of Royal Portrush Golf Club. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Pako Pim, Erin Pim (11), and Lesley Pim. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Derek Maguire, Leanne Courtney, Caroline Courtney, Chris Courtney and Gerry Maguire. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Kevin McGuigan, Kian McGuigan,(aged 5), Ella McGuigan (aged 5), and Fergal McGuigan. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Suzanna, Michelle, and Gavin (aged 6) Higgins. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Suzanna, Michelle, and Gavin (aged 6) Higgins. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th July 2019 Pictured: Russell and Bernie McKenna, with Darragh, Sophie, and Tadhg McKenna. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
A view across the 6th and 8th greens during day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Large crowds follow Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell on the 2nd green during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Large crowds gather around the 2nd green during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 20: The scoreboard is pictured during the third round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 20, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
England's Callum Shinkwin tees off the 1st during day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
A spectator walks the course during day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 20: A general view of the 18th green during the third round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 20, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The scoreboard is updated during the third round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 20: Tyrrell Hatton of England watches his shot from the third tee during the third round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 20, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 20: Tony Finau of the United States walks on the third hole during the third round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 20, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Actor James Nesbitt watches the action during day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Spain's Sergio Garcia putts at the 17th hole during the third round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 20: J.B. Holmes of the United States walks onto the first tee during the third round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 20, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
England's Justin Rose tees off the 6th during day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
England's Lee Westwood tees off the 6th during day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 20, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 20: A general view over the eighth hole during the third round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 20, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Simon Hamilton - who has announced he is to leave politics in the autumn - also attended. The former finance minister said the competition did Northern Ireland proud.

Caoimhe Archibald described the set-up as "brilliant".

The Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley celebrated his 28th birthday at the championship spending most of the day watching Rory McIlroy's heroics as he battled to make the cut, only to fall short by a short.

"He gave everything for us and has done Northern Ireland proud," he tweeted.

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