Northern Ireland

Golfer McDowell returns to home club in Portrush

Golfer Graeme McDowell has returned to his home club in Portrush after his triumph at the US Open at the weekend.

McDowell became the first European to win the trophy in 40 years on Sunday when he won by one shot at Pebble Beach in California.

The 30-year-old said it was great to be back at Rathmore Golf Club "where it all began".

"It's so important for a player to have the right people around to drive me on and help me achieve my goals," he said.

"People in this golf club have just treated me unbelievably since I've been a very young man and it's great to be back here."

Later he told the BBC he felt like he hadn't put the trophy down for three days.

"I keep thinking I'm going to wake up, I keep thinking this is all going to be a dream and I keep pinching myself," he said.

"I think I have a reality check every hour, going 'did that really happen to me'.

"But it's obviously great coming back here this evening, this helps me put it into perspective a litle bit, it's really starting to sink in."

'Amazing'

He said the response he had had since winning the tournament had been amazing.

"My website crashed on Sunday afternoon because of the traffic coming through.

"I've had so many great text messages from friends, colleagues, people I've met, people I've crossed paths with over the years."

He added: "I hope I can still come back to this neck of the woods and still be who I am and people have always treated me the same way around here since I was winning junior events at 15, 16 years of age.

"So hopefully this doesn't change things too much."

Earlier, there was a minor crisis when the winning trophy got stuck in a security box.

The Portrush man joked that the trophy was so secure that no-one could get their hands on it.

"We have got it locked in the box and we don't know the combination for the lock. We are looking for lock-cutters to cut the trophy out," he said.

"I have to say I was not involved in that loop and take no responsibility for the fact that the trophy is now securely locked away and we're unable to get our hands on it, but I think we will be solving that issue pretty soon."

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