Fans' favourite Graeme McDowell signs autographs for fans on Tuesday.
PORTRUSH golfer Graeme McDowell claims he is 'excited' about the week ahead, with less than 48 hours to go until the start of The 148th Open at Royal Portrush.
The 2010 US Open champion is seeking to win a second major on a course he knows well, having grown up just a short distance from the Dunluce Links.
"I'm excited about the week ahead," he told The Chronicle.
"There have been a lot of distractions early in the week obviously but once the gun goes off on Thursday we'll see what we can do.
"It's been a fantastic build-up already and the best players in the world are raving about the course and the area.
"I'm working hard, I'm raring to go and I'm excited," he added.
The Rathmore club man admitted that he was proud of what had been accomplished in his home town and that he was impressed with the set-up.
"The golf course is in wonderful condition thanks to Graeme Beatt and his staff and this tournament is going to do us all proud I think.
"Of course there's expectation and pressure but everyone's here to wish me well. It's not like an intimidating atmosphere - people want me to perform and do my best - so I'll try and use that energy.
"It's a bit like the Ryder Cup in many ways, in that people are pulling for you. I got on that first tee on Tuesday and it felt like that there was 20,000 people there.
"I was nervous then so I can only imagine what it'll be like on Thursday."
And the 39-year-old hinted that he would like to see more traditional north coast weather to really test the world's best golfers.
"We need a little something," he said.
"Four days of weather like we've had to date and this place will get torn apart like any links course would. They're built for the wind and the weather.
"The 18th at The Open championship is my favourite walk in the world - to do it at Portrush late on Sunday, there'd be nothing like it.
"I'll have to play well and we'll see what happens."
Keep up to date with events at Royal Portrush with The Chronicle on-line and through social media, and don't forget the special 32-page supplement inside Tuesday's paper.