McIlroy knows what he is talking about by the way. Destined to be world number one in the not too distant future, he doesn’t just like the Nick Faldo designed Lough Erne in fantastic Fermanagh. He also has a holiday home there and carries the club’s name on the collar of his shirt.
“Lough Erne is a home from home for me. It’s my second home and a great golf course that is as challenging and enjoyable for the amateur as it is for the pro,” said McIlroy, who’s not the only world class golfer with a home in his native land. McIlroy’s close friend and Dungannon native Clarke likes the seaside town of Portrush so much that he recently moved his family to live beside one of the world’s great links courses.
“Royal Portrush has got everything. Links is the purest form of golf and this is the best links course in the world,” said Clarke, who has recently moved back to a huge house that overlooks the course and the stunning Antrim coastline.
“It presents so many difficult challenges. The new tees that have been put in as well make the course much more of a modern-day challenge. We have an amazing product, not just here but throughout Northern Ireland.”
McDowell’s first port of call when he returns home from his many triumphs abroad is always the Rathmore clubhouse at Royal Portrush.
“I admit, when I used to stand out there on the greens of Rathmore, I dared to dream about a day like Sunday at the U.S. Open last year,” admitted McDowell.
“It was such a special day, and having my dad there was fantastic. My upbringing at Portrush stood me in good stead at Pebble Beach. It is a course very similar to here with rough ground and a sea breeze, although it is a bit rougher here.”
McDowell has never forgotten where he came from. The clubhouse in Rathmore features the Ryder Cup shirt McDowell won when he helped Europe beat America in 2008.
His message says it all. “Rathmore, always my home, thanks for all the support.”