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Rory McIlroy ready to sample glory on home turf

By Frank Brownlow

Rory McIlroy may be the world’s number one golfer with millions in the bank and a mansion in Florida but there’s no place like home.

And McIlroy just can’t wait to entertain the Ulster public at the Irish Open at Royal Portrush this summer.

“It would be incredible to win,” said McIlroy.

“I haven’t played competitively at Royal Portrush since 2005, so to go back there and have the chance to win my national Open is something that is very, very important to me.

“Hopefully I can give it a real good go this year.

“For the Irish Open to come to Portrush is a huge thing for any golfer from Northern Ireland.

“So for myself and the likes of Graeme (McDowell), Darren (Clarke) and Michael Hoey to play the Irish Open in Northern Ireland is a dream come true for us.”

The 22-year-old from Holywood can expect a hero’s welcome when he tees off at Royal Portrush especially after his triumph in the Honda Classic in Florida on Sunday which took him to the world number one spot.

The Irish Open runs from June 28 to July 1 and this will be the first time the tournament has been staged north of the border since 1953.

The chance to see the reigning US Open Champion and his three fellow Irish Major Champions — Clarke, McDowell and Dubliner Padraig Harrington — has already generated huge interest.

McIlroy — who once shot 61 at Royal Portrush as an amateur — added: “It’s incredible to see the response of the fans so early on, and just goes to show how popular golf in Northern Ireland has become. I’m expecting huge crowds and a great atmosphere.

“This is going to be one of the biggest events Northern Ireland has ever held.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to is so excited about the Irish Open coming to Portrush, and hopefully it’ll be a great boost for the club. Maybe one day they’ll be able to host an Open Championship there.”

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