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From Fred Daly to Rory McIlroy: The story of the Open Championship and Irish golf in 30 great pictures [photos]

Fred Daly got his hands on the Claret Jug in 1947 and Rory McIlroy became the fourth Irishman to win The Open in 2014.
Fred Daly got his hands on the Claret Jug in 1947 and Rory McIlroy became the fourth Irishman to win The Open in 2014.
Where it all began for Irishmen in The Open: Fred Daly was the first ever Irish winner of the Open Championship in 1947. Born in - where else - Portrush, Daly went on to be the professional at Lurgan and Balmoral Golf Clubs. It was while at Balmoral that he ventured into Championship golf and become the first Irishman to win the Irish Open in 1946 and just a year later repeated the feat in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
By the time Fred Daly won it, the Open had been running for 87 years. It all began at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, Willie Park Snr the first winner. The Claret Jug, to be known officially as The Golf Champion Trophy, was bought for £30 in 1872. Unsurprisingly, the competition has always had a unique bond with Scotland, shown by 1931 winner Tommy Armour who lifted the trophy in his kilt.
The first visit: The Open was hosted at Royal Portrush way back in 1951. Here, would-be winner Max Faulkner drives off from the 10th tee. The course, and the crowds, will be a little bit different in 2019.
Englishman Max Faulkner got his hands on the Claret Jug after he shot a 285 total for the week, enough to beat Argentinian Antonio Cerdá by two shots. How will that three under par target fare against this year's competitors?
After Max Faulkner's win, it proved rather difficult for a British golfer to get his hands on the Claret Jug. Tony Jacklin finally bridged the 18 year gap in 1969 and then it was a further 16 years until Sandy Lyle (pictured) won it. Lyle was the first Scotsman to win the Open since Tommy Armour in 1931.
The famine ends with a feast: Lyle's win paved the way for a hat-trick of victories for Englishman Nick Faldo, in 1987, 1990 and 1992. He even received a flyover in his treble triumph at St Andrew's.
The Golden Bear at the Home of Golf: Three of Jack Nicklaus' 18 major victories came at the Open. His 1966 win at Muirfield was added to by dual success at St Andrew's in 1970 and 1978.
Will there ever be as widely a loved golfer as Severiano Ballesteros? Adored across the globe - and not least in Ireland after his hat-trick of Irish Open wins - the Spaniard won three Opens (1979, 1984, 1988). He also finished second as a teenager. His 1984 victory, by two shots over Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson, came at St Andrew's.
We can't talk about the Open without a least a mention to the biggest name teeing it up at Royal Portrush this month. Tiger Woods has won the Open on three occasions, first of all at St Andrew's in 2000 and then securing back-to-back wins in 2005 (also at St Andrew's) and 2006 (at Royal Liverpool).
Woods' 2006 triumph was particularly poignant, arriving just months after the death of his father Earl. Holding a steely determination throughout the Championship, Woods sobbed into then caddie Steve Williams' shoulder as soon as the winning putt dropped. "He would have been very proud of me," a tearful Woods said afterwards. "He was always on my case about thinking my way round the golf course and not letting my emotions get the better of me."
So back to the Irish: It took exactly 60 years for a second Irishman to follow in Fred Daly's footsteps by winning the famous trophy. Christy O'Connor Senior (pictured) finished as joint runner-up to Peter Thomson in 1965 and Darren Clarke (more about him soon) was joint second behind Justin Leonard in 1997.
Eventually Padraig Harrington managed to make it two Irish winners when he came out on top in a play-off against Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie in 2007. Little did he know then it would spark a glory-laden decade for Irish golfers.
That meant to Claret Jug was coming back to Ireland for the first time in 60 years at Weston Airport.
'I'll win the big prize some day'. Wait, don't I recognise the curly-haired kid? That's a youthful looking Rory McIlroy, who announced himself to the world at the same 2007 tournament, winning the silver medal for best-placed amateur. He finished joint 42nd after shooting a stunning three under par opening round, lying in a tie for third on Friday morning.
Two-times: Harrington followed up Woods' successive wins with back-to-back victories of his own, cruising to a four-shot win over Ian Poulter at Royal Birkdale in 2008.
If the Claret Jug could talk...
A lifetime in the making: Darren Clarke, of course, got his hands on the Claret Jug in 2011 when he made the most of difficult conditions to secure a three-shot victory at Royal St George's. Then aged 42, Clarke was one of the most popular winners in recent memory.
And it was this iconic image that encompassed the special victory for Darren Clarke. Could he repeat the unthinkable and win it again at Royal Portrush?
Darren's sons Conor and Tyrone were arguably his happiest fans at his homecoming at Royal Portrush.
Get yourself somebody who looks at you the way Darren Clarke looks at the Claret Jug.
Side-bets: Golfers are well-known to offer each other a side-bet, particularly in practice rounds. Rory McIlroy milked every bit of this win over Darren Clarke at Hoylake in 2014.
The fourth man: That win was a signal of things to come. In the same tournament, Rory McIlroy made it four Irish Open victories in nine attempts with hissuccess at Royal Liverpool. He won by three strokes from USA duo Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
'I told you I'd win the big one, mum.'
The Claret Jug was introduced to Ulster Rugby's Kingspan Stadium after McIlroy's victory, the Open champion and huge Ulster fan given a rapturous reception.
Sparky, the Ulster Rugby mascot, loves an Open winner.
Daly, Harrington, Clarke, McIlroy.....McDowell? Is this the year for Graeme? There wouldn't be a more popular winner at Royal Portrush than hometown man G-Mac.
While names like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka will hope to be in the mix on Sunday at Royal Portrush, don't rule out a long shot victory. There have been a few of those over the yeasr, not least Todd Hamilton (pictured), who won the tournament in 2004. It was only his rookie season on the PGA Tour but he held his nerve to beat Ernie Els in a four-hole play-off at Royal Troon. He actually made it back-to-back rookie winners, following Ben Curtis' 2003 victory at Royal St George's.
The Open Championship hasn't been back at Royal Portrush since 1951 but the Senior Open was a permanent fixture at the course between 1995 and 1999, visiting again in 2004. There was even a local winner when Christy O'Connor Junior got his hands on the trophy in 99.
2018 was undoubtedly the year of Francesco Molinari. The popular Italian won The Open by two shots from, among others, McIlroy at Carnoustie before going on to be the star of Europe's Ryder Cup victory.
So now it's over to Royal Portrush for the next chapter. What a week we have in store on the Dunluce Links.


From Belfast Telegraph