Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf The Open

The Open: American golf fans from coast-to-coast pack up the trains

Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

American Luke Jackson had a very pressing reason for wanting to tick The Open in Portrush off his bucket list.

The family man from Illinois, who has been to all of golf's Majors, is losing his sight.

He said he wanted to attend the Open here before his vision deteriorated any further.

"I had to come now or not see it all," said Luke.

"There's a lot of bad things in the world that you don't want to see."

He brought his wife Amy and their three children Bernadette, Mary and Samuel with him to Northern Ireland to share the experience of completing his set of top golf championships.

The family, who had been staying in Belfast, travelled on the first of a series of special Northern Ireland Railways trains to Portrush.

Sign In

It left Great Victoria Street station at 4.25am and arrived in good time for fans to see Darren Clarke teeing off.

Luke said he was rooting for Phil Mickelson to win The Open but added that he was also a fan Northern Ireland golfing stars Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Clarke.

He had also done his homework on the Portrush connections with golf and said he believed the presence of the town's Ricky Elliott on the bag for Brooks Koepka could be a massive boost for him.

Mary said she was a big Rory fan, adding: "I met him once at a championship in the States and he was lovely."

The Jacksons, however, have little time for their fellow countryman Tiger Woods.

Luke said: "The girls have issues with him because of his off-the-course behaviour, but he is a great golfer."

Their train was dubbed the American Express because so many visitors from the States were on board.

Dan Blendell from Albany, New York, was on a flying visit to The Open. He said: "I've always wanted to get a taste of an Open in Britain. I'm a huge golf fan but I've never really seen a links course in the States to compare with British and Irish ones like Portrush. I've seen pictures and it looks spectacular."

Dan's partner Carol Hackett is taking him on the trip as a Christmas present but she didn't get herself a ticket for the golf.

"I'll probably go shopping," she said, but plans to accompany Dan on the next phase of their cross-Atlantic trip.

"We're going to St Andrews in Scotland because it's the home of golf.

"We're so close, we have to visit it."

Republic of Ireland's James Sugrue tees off the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 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.
Republic of Ireland's James Sugrue tees off the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 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.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell tees off from the first hole during the first round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 18, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland tees off the 5th during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the first green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Some say at the end of a rainbow, there's a pot of gold. In reality, it's Darren Clarke.
A scoreboard showing Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy +4 during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 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.
Rory McIlroy made a quadruple bogey eight on his first hole.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy walks down the fairway from the first hole during the first round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 18, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Who's proud of Our Wee Country right now?
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 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.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke celebrates his birdies on the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 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 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland lines up a putt on the second green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Amateur James Sugrue of Northern Ireland prepares to play a shot on the first hole during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays the opening tee shot off the first tee during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays the opening tee shot off the first tee during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Robert and Lisa Gowdy from Detroit, who were also on the train, initially planned their trip to Ireland purely for the golf but expanded the size of their party.

Robert said: "It was the lure of the golf which brought us here in the first place. We've seen all the famous championships in the States and wanted to try one over here.

"But I later decided to bring my parents, Roy and Betty Gowdy with us because they are originally from Belfast."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph