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The Open could be back at Royal Portrush in just five years: Graeme McDowell supports swift return to north coast

Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates as he walks up the 18th fairway during the final round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Andy BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates as he walks up the 18th fairway during the final round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Andy BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Open Championship will be back at Royal Portrush. The only question is when?

Graeme McDowell, along with the whole of the Irish golfing public, is hoping it returns sooner rather than later.

The hometown man could only finish in a disappointing tie for 57th after a six over par final round 77, in which a lost ball on the eighth proved a 'killer blow'.

However, he wasn't prepared to let a late slip down the leaderboard take the shine off a momentous week for Irish golf.

From Rory McIlroy's stunning run to miss the cut by a single shot on Friday to Shane Lowry's out-of-this-world Saturday 63, Portrush's first Open since 1951 put on a real show.

Now McDowell is hoping the success will be rewarded by the R&A.

"I've heard the whispers that we could be back here as soon as five years from now," he said.

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"For it to get the recognition and then get back here soon, to keep that Portrush train rolling, it would be huge.

"Everyone is telling me this is their favourite Open venue they've ever been to up. There are so many ticks in all the right boxes this week.

"The players just love the golf course. I think the balance this golf course has, it's all there in front of you. It's got in length, it's got some short. It's got some quirkiness in places. But it's all there. It's very fair.

"They feel like it's the best links they've ever seen, which is high praise from the best players in the world who get to play the best courses on the planet. It's very special."

As good as the course itself is, and now the world is in no doubt about that, McDowell argues that it's only the second most important factor in making The 148th Open Championship one of the best there has ever been.

"Probably the thing I'm most proud of are the atmospheres the crowds have created," he said. "People have been as proud to go out there, behave well and support all the players, treating everyone like one of their own. That's the way the people of Ireland are. They're welcoming people.

"It's been special. I'm proud of Portrush, proud of Northern Ireland and I'm proud of Ireland."

What added the icing on the cake, of course, was the win for Offaly man Lowry.

"I remember the first day I met him," recalls McDowell.

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry during a press conference after winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Pic: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
Open Champions Shane Lowry gets his hands on the Claret Jug
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Open Champion Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug, wife Wendy and daughter Iris.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug
Republic of Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates with Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 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 Shane Lowry celebrates with Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 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 Shane Lowry celebrate winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/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 Shane Lowry celebrates with Claret Jug after winning The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/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.
Shane Lowry finally gets his hands on the Claret Jug.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland smiles on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Shane Lowry celebrate winning the Claret Jug Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrate winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/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 Shane Lowry celebrates on the 18th during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Pic: David Davies/PA Wire.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates winning the Claret Jug with wife Wendy Honner and kid during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/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 Shane Lowry celebrates winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/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 Shane Lowry celebrates winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/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 Shane Lowry celebrates winning the Claret Jug during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 21, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/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.
Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates after winning the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Andy BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates after winning the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Andy BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 21: Open Champion Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates on the 18th green during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 21, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Shane Lowry has won The Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Shane Lowry enjoyed a four shot lead on the 14th tee of his final round.
Shane Lowry opened up with a level par front nine to close in on his first major title at the Open Championship.
Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts to his birdie putt on the fourth during the final round of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Shane Lowry in the rough on the 1st during day four of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush (David Davies/PA)
Shane Lowry begins the final round of The Open Championship with a four shot lead.
Graeme McDowell's final round is under way.
Shane Lowry enjoyed a four shot lead on Saturday evening.

"I just shot 61 at Baltray the week he won (the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009). He came in and shot 62, and he didn't even introduce himself. He said, 'I can't believe you beat me by one out there today'. And I'm like, 'Who's this kid?'

"We've become very good friends. I've always respected his game so much because he's very ballsy. He's a phenomenal driver of the ball and he's maybe the best chipper I've ever seen."

While it was Lowry who took the final applause on a surrounded 18th green on Sunday afternoon, McDowell had more than played his part.

His three under third round 68 was a real highlight of the week for the locals, who turned up in 'tens of thousands' to cheer on their own early on Saturday morning.

 "I was walking up that first hole and they were ten deep," he said. "It was like a Ryder Cup - really amazing.

"We knew this was going to be a special Open."

And it was; for the north coast, Northern Ireland and Irish golf. Now when can we do it all again?

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