Portrush a special place for Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy can’t wait to play in the Irish Open when it returns to Royal Portrush in June, the world No 2 said yesterday.

Reigning US Open champion McIlroy shot a 61 at the County Antrim links as a 15-year-old and also watched from behind the ropes as a toddler while his father Gerry strode the fairways there.

“Portrush is one of the best courses in the world and to have the Irish Open there and play my first European Tour event in Northern Ireland in front of home fans will be very special,” said McIlroy after the venue was confirmed by officials.

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“The course holds great memories for me, from watching my dad play there as a toddler to playing in it myself as a 15-year-old,” he added. “It’s a superb set-up and players new to the course are going to love it.”

McIlroy, 22, from Holywood near Belfast, said the 28 June to 1 July event would attract a stellar field given its close proximity to the Open at Royal Lytham which runs from 19-22 July.

“Hosting an event on one of the best links courses in the world that close to an Open championship is sure to generate a strong field,” he added.