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5:08PM

Newsday (N.Y.): Tiger Woods, Rory McIllroy, Phil Mickelson, miss cut at British Open

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — One last putt. That’s all Rory McIlroy needed to make the cut, to make his countrymen ecstatic, to make himself proud.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019 Newsday. All rights reserved.

6:24PM

Newsday (N.Y.): Rory McIlroy off to a disastrous start at British Open

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — The anticipation was great for Rory McIlroy. The British Open was being held at a course, Royal Portrush, he has played since he was 10 years old,  an hour’s drive from his home.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2019 Newsday. All rights reserved. 

10:27AM

At Portrush, Rory returns to his roots and memories

By Art Spander

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — So little has changed, on the course at least where, despite a remodeling and some new bunkers, it all seemed familiar to Rory McIlroy. Then again, so much has changed.

McIlroy is a star now, a home country hero, a major golf champion. Then again, he still he remains the kid from next door — or, more literally, 60 miles away — returning to his roots and his records. 

A British Open in Northern Ireland, which once seemed unlikely. A British Open, the 148th Open Championship, at Royal Portrush, which you might say like the nation itself, ripped apart by sectarian fighting known as the Troubles, has undergone restoration.

Three golfing greats emerged from the region, three major champs who directly or indirectly helped bring back the Open, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and McIlroy. 

There will be pressure for each, when play begins Thursday, so many expectations. So much attention. Friends and family almost everywhere. There will be pleasure for each. If it’s not once in a lifetime, and who knows when the Open will return to Portrush, it’s distinctive.

“Portrush has been a very big — at least the golf club has been — a very big part of my upbringing,” said McIlroy. “It’s sort of surreal.”

He was born and raised in Holywood (pronounced Hollywood, like the movie city), a suburb of Belfast about an hour’s drive south of Portrush.

“I think my history maybe isn’t quite as long here at Portrush than, say Darren or G-Mac (McDowell), but my first memories are coming up here to watch my dad play in the North of Ireland (golf championship).

“I remember chipping and putting, being 7 or 8, my dad playing. My summer, and I got to the stage where I was playing North of Ireland ... My dad brought me to Portrush for my 10th birthday to play, which was my birthday present. I actually met Darren Clarke for the first time, which was really cool.”

McIlroy is 30 now, Clarke 50.

“It shows you what we’ve done in terms of players,” said McIlroy of the Northern Irish. “G-Mac winning the U.S. Open, Darren the Open and some of the success I’ve had.” Some!? McIlroy has won the U.S. Open, the British Open and (twice) the PGA Championship.

“And how Northern Ireland has come on as a country and that we’re able to host such a big event again.”

The only other time was 1951. Plans for a subsequent Open were shelved because of the violence among the Catholic minority and Protestant, government-supported majority that wanted to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, as opposed to uniting it with the Republic of Ireland.

The fighting, responsible for the deaths of 3,500, lased from the 1960s until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. McIlroy was born in 1989.

“Sport has an unbelievable ability to bring people together,” said McIlroy. “We all know that this country sometimes needs that. This has the ability to do that. Talking of legacy, that could be the biggest impact this tournament has outside of sport.

“Outside of everything else is the fact that people are coming here to enjoy it and have a good time and sort of forget everything else that goes on.”

Including the tragedy of the Troubles. 

“I just think it just means people have moved on,” said McIlroy. ”It’s a different time. It’s a prosperous time. I was very fortunate. I grew up outside Belfast and never saw anything. I was oblivious to it. 

“I watched a movie a couple of years ago called ’71, about a British soldier stationed at the Palace Barracks in Holywood, which is literally 500 yards from where I grew up. I remember asking my mom and dad, ‘Is this actually what happened?’ It’s amazing 40 years on it’s such a great place. No one cares who they are, where they’re from, their background. You can have a great time, and it doesn’t matter what side of the street you come from.”

The next few days, all that will matter is that the Open is back at Portrush.

9:46PM

Rory on this Open: ‘The toughest test of the year’

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — It’s the U.S. Open, America’s golfing championship, demanding, frustrating and, if the shots are pure and the bounces are fortunate, rewarding.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 

8:59PM

A Masters with a very masterful leader board

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Well, it is named the Masters, isn’t it? You expect to have a lot of champions up on the leader board, the game’s elite, the names everybody knows — even if they don’t know golf.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven