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Tee time as McDowell and McIlroy pictured at Royal County Down

By Patrice Dougan

Two friends stroll down the golf course, bags slung over their shoulders as they chat and catch up.



But this is no ordinary pair of golf enthusiasts, for the two friends are among the top golfers in the world — Northern Ireland greats Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.

Snapped after McDowell won the US Open last year — and before McIlroy followed in his footsteps — the pair set out for a Saturday morning round at Royal County Down Golf Club.

With their bags weighing down their shoulders they stroll off the 13th tee, McIlroy’s trademark curly hair protruding from his blue cap.

And there’s a distinct lack of glamour as they ditch their trusty caddies and carry their own clubs round the Newcastle course, perhaps an indication of the selfless love of the game that has taken them both to glory.

The two Ulstermen were snapped by David McAuley, a former captain of the club.

It’s a glimpse of a quiet moment taken on the verge of McIlroy’s stunning rise to world-wide stardom.

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