The stage is set for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush.
PORTRUSH golfer Graeme McDowell has spoken of the immense he will feel when he steps on to the first tee at Royal Portrush Golf Club on Thursday morning.
McDowell, who earned his place in the field just last month, admitted it was a conversation he had with himself that ensured he would be competing in his home town this week.
"I think the middle of last season I had that conversation with myself," admitted the Rathmore club man.
"I said, hey, if you continue to play the way you're playing this game is going to be gone a hell of a lot quicker that you thought. What's that going to feel like?
"I think coming to that realisation helped me because it made me start to embrace the challenge a little bit more, enjoy the time I have left out here.
"I finished last year pretty strongly and came out pretty strongly this year and it's great the way things have come together.
"It was amazing getting the job done in Canada and I'm obviously excited to be here this week.
"It would definitely be a dream to b e competitive this weekend," he added.
McDowell is due out at 9.14am on Thursday morning, playing in the company of Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Xander Schauffele of the United States.
Darren Clarke has the honour of hitting the first tee shot of The 148th Open, almost 70 years after The 1951 Open, the only other time the tournament has been held outside of mainland Britain.
Defending champion, Italian Francesco Molinari goes out at 9.58am, with Rory McIlroy out at 10.09am.