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Adam McKendry's: Top 10 moments of The Open

 

Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with caddie Bo Martin on the 18th green
Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with caddie Bo Martin on the 18th green
Darren Clarke tees off on the 1st
Graeme McDowell
Gary McNeill
Tiger Woods
Dustin Johnson
Tony Finau
Rory McIlroy
Emiliano Grillo
Tommy Fleetwood
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

It may have been 68 years in the waiting, but the memories of the 148th staging of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush will last a lifetime.

A perfect venue, albeit with slightly imperfect weather, the world's biggest stars and a fairytale home winner to cheer, it all made it one of those 'you had to be there' occasions.

So, here are my Top 10 memories from my week up at the Port. Hope to see you again soon.

1. Darren's early start

When the tee times for the tournament were announced, it was given the perfect start. Who better to kick off the first Open Championship in Portrush in 68 years than one of its most famous residents?

Despite the 6.35am tee time, the crowds packed themselves into the small stand around the tee, they lined the fairways and they roared the 2011 Open champion onto the tee ferociously.

Good job he striped it down the fairway, and with that we were under way.

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2. Champion, ole, ole, ole...

The outcome of the tournament was already decided when Shane Lowry hit the 18th green with a six-shot lead, so he was able to stride down the fairway and soak in the party atmosphere, with the chants of 'Ole, ole, ole' having started all the way back on the 15th green.

On the green he took two putts, the two arms were raised, and there was one well-deserved Claret Jug for the Offaly man.

What a fitting end.

3. Mac the most of it

Having grown up playing his golf next door at neighbouring Rathmore, this was a dream come true for Portrush native Graeme McDowell, and the reception he received coming down the 18th hole on Sunday was exceptional.

The crowd rose in appreciation of a visibly emotional G-Mac, the only Northern Ireland player to make the cut, and he was the perfect ambassador for Portrush across the week.

All his hard work qualifying in Canada paid off. This is a week he will never forget.

4. Local hero - literally

On Friday, with an odd number of players making the cut, Portrush pro Gary McNeill got the call every golfer wants to receive: "You have a Saturday tee time at The Open."

Not only that, he made the most of his call-up too when he raked in a 40ft putt on the 17th hole for one of the most popular birdies of the entire third round.

It could've been a different story though. He nearly hit me with his opening tee shot!

5. Tiger prowls into the Port

The moment that it really kicked in that The Open had arrived was that first sighting of 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods.

Although The Masters champion failed to make the weekend, his arrival at Portrush on the Sunday whipped up a frenzy and, understandably, he drew big crowds any time he took to the course.

It was then you realised the scale of what was to take place - the best in the world on the north coast, and he the biggest of them all.

6. DJ has a ball

Say what you want about Dustin Johnson, he went a long way up in my estimation on Sunday.

Walking off the eighth green, I met DJ crossing towards the 11th tee when a young fan held out his hand for a golf ball. Initially the World No.2 walked past, only to stop abruptly, fish in his pocket and produce one for the kid, who accepted it with a beaming smile.

Brilliant gesture, and a reminder that these guys really do care.

7. Shouting in the storm

The heaviest rain of Sunday swept in as I was speaking to a colleague in the media centre and, by the end of our conservation, we had to be content with yelling at each other it was so loud - no, seriously!

At least we were dry. Out on the course, everybody was getting drenched and the golf was suffering, with only Tony Finau managing to battle round in under-par in the conditions.

Sure it's Northern Ireland, what else did you expect?!

8. Rors galore for McIlroy's near miss

It was heartbreaking and incredible at the same time.

Having clawed back from an eight-over first round, Rory McIlroy pulled back to within one shot of making the cut, only to fail to birdie the last and miss out by one.

Almost in tears, the Holywood man waved to the crowd who, despite their local hero falling short, roared in response.

"That's a bigger reception than the winner will get on Sunday," remarked one reporter beside me.

He was right.

9. Good luck for Grillo

I'm convinced I'm good luck for players that play before or after the group I'm following.

At The Masters, I was following Rory McIlroy when Bryson DeChambeau, in the group ahead, made a hole-in-one, and on Thursday at The Open, I was following Darren Clarke when Emiliano Grillo made a hole-in-one in the group behind on the 13th!

The Argentine would go on to miss the cut, but at least he'll always have that positive memory of Portrush to look back on.

10. Get a move on!

The players were the stars this week but, for one brief second, I got my own moment in the spotlight.

Having thrown a can of water in the bin on the 10th tee, I was ambling up the fairway when a group of fans started applauding as I walked by.

Mistaking them for fans of my reporting, they actually only wanted me to hurry up so they could cross the fairway,

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