Crowds flock to Royal Portrush. Open back to Northern Ireland?
In scenes normally only seen at the Majors but crowds have descended on Royal Portrush and it was only Tuesday.
With two days to go to the start of the 2012 Irish Open, the Irish people have voted with their feet taking to the famed County Antrim course in massive numbers and in crowds more akin to a Saturday or final round of a European Tour tournament.
For those driving the Dunluce Road from the south the site coming into Portrush will be something to remember this week.
And in a European Tour first, the tournament is 'sold out' for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and with every indication Thursday's first day will be the same.
It will be the first time the Irish Open has been held in Northern Ireland since 1953.
And R & A officials present this week to monitor the tournament will already be impressed by the outpouring of support for the only Irish tournament still on the European Tour schedule.
There has been numerous calls for The Open to return to Royal Portrush given the only time golf's oldest Major Championship was held outside of England and Scotland was in 1951, the R & A may have to take a more serious look at adding Royal Portrush to it's present rota of nine courses.
Of course, crowd favourites is the U.S. Open winning duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, as wells triple Major winning Padraig Harrington and current Open Champion, Darren Clarke and now a resident of Portrush.
But one of the surprise favourites among the crowd already American Keegan Bradley, winner of last year's PGA Championship and competing for a first ever occasion in Europe.
Bradley has been bowled over by the outpouring of support for the 26-year old Vermont-born golfer who has roots in the County Cork region of Ireland.
He played a practice round today with Harrington and Irish regional pro, John Reilly.
Harrington teed off first but then Reilly was really pinching himself when Bradley invited him to tee up next.
"No, you go first Keegan. You've won a Major and I haven't", smiled Reilly.Written by Bernie McGuire
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