Northern Ireland

The Open 2019 diary: Tiger's glove and Portrush Rahm raid

Patrick Morris and his mum Teresa
Image caption Patrick Morris, pictured with his mum Teresa, jumped highest to grab Tiger Woods' glove

As the Open arrives in Northern Ireland, BBC News NI brings you news and views from Royal Portrush.

Glove is in the air

As Open souvenirs go they don't get much better than something belonging to Tiger Woods.

As the 15-time major champion finished off his second practice round with Dustin Johnson and fans' favourite Rickie Fowler on Monday, he crossed a raised walkway behind the 18th green, took off his glove and threw it toward a 200-strong crowd below.

Of all the eager hands that reached skyward, it was 12-year-old Patrick Morris who claimed the golden prize.

"There was one girl on her dad's shoulders but I just jumped higher than anyone else," he told BBC News NI.

Patrick, a pupil at Belfast's Lagan College, was already a big Tiger fan before coming to Portrush.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fans followed Woods wherever he went on the Royal Portrush course on Monday

He said he can't wait to see if any of the great man's magic rubs off when he puts on the glove for a few swings.

Mum Teresa is hoping her boy can get the glove signed before Sunday.

The Morris family, in fact, has a bit of history when it comes to Royal Portrush.

Patrick's dad Andrew twice narrowly lost the North of Ireland amateur championship here, on the second occasion to Irish star Shane Lowry.

If the County Offaly man wins on Sunday, Andrew can say he was beaten by an Open champion.

Rahm raid

Jon Rahm is, unsurprisingly, excited to be back in Portrush.

Having won the Irish Open just around the corner at Portstewart in 2017 and clinched that title again in Lahinch, County Clare, just over a week ago, he rightly fancies his chances.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Jon Rahm has a fondness for Ireland given his successes on the island

But it's not just the golf that the Spaniard loves about this part of the world.

"I can't wait to go to Portrush and visit the Harbour Bistro like I did every single night I was there," he said.

"I'm sure I'll see a lot of people again and hopefully enjoy the week and play the best Open I've played so far."

No surprise then to see him back there supping a pint or three on Saturday night then… or was he?

The bogus Jon Rahm was later identified as "Big Davy" from Ballymena, who even wangled a few free drinks for his efforts.

Even serious golf fans who rumbled the ruse were happy to buy him a jar.

Like his famous lookalike he's probably a little under par today.

Derry's jet set

If you're travelling through City of Derry Airport this week you may well wonder what the collective noun for private jets is.

Such is the draw of the Open, some 40 private planes screeched to a halt on the airport's runway on Monday.

Image caption It's thought that some of golf's great and good have swept into City of Derry Airport

With the first tee of Royal Portrush about 27 miles (43km) away, it is the most logical place to land for the jet-setting golfing elite - players and fans alike.

Just who has landed on the shores of Lough Foyle is being tightly guarded.

Airport manager Charlene Shongo told BBC News NI there had been some "high-profile passengers".

"But we wouldn't disclose any information about any passenger travelling on any flights to and from the airport," she added.

There'll be an embarrassment of riches on the airport tarmac until the final, decisive shots are played on Sunday.

Ice cream Sunday?

Sadly, Open champion Francesco Molinari hasn't yet made it to Morelli's ice cream shop in Portrush to see the wall decorated with hundreds and thousands in his image.

Maybe the Italian's performance coach is keeping him away from temptation but there's still a chance of him popping in for a poke.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Francesco Molinari's children could get an ice cream treat this weekend

Asked if he hoped to drop by before the week was out, last year's winner said: "Obviously it's a busy week but my family is coming out later on so it might be a good treat with the kids.

"They'll be happy getting ice cream. - they probably won't even notice what's on the wall."

Good to know an Open champion is as underappreciated in his home as every other dad.

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