The Open 2019: McDowell proud after 'phenomenal' Open at Royal Portrush
Portrush native Graeme McDowell says he is "proud of the town, Northern Ireland and the whole island of Ireland" after a "phenomenal" 2019 Open Championship.
McDowell posted a final round six-over-par 77 on Sunday to end on four over for the tournament at Royal Portrush.
"I've been overwhelmed by comments from players, caddies and even TV crews who have said this is the best links course they have ever seen," said McDowell.
"Some are saying this is the best Open Championship they have ever been to."
"That's just special. For a guy who grew up here and is from the town it's amazing. I love this place and it is the realisation of a dream to have the Open Championship come back here, to see all the fans out there creating such a wonderful atmosphere," McDowell added.
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Sell-out crowds have packed the Dunluce Links on the north coast of Northern Ireland all week, making it the second best attended Open behind the 2000 event at St Andrews.
"The people who have come out to offer their support this week have been overwhelmingly full of good cheer and have had such excitement to have this great event here in Portrush and on the island of Ireland," said the Northern Irishman minutes after receiving a rapturous reception in front of the 4,000-seater grandstand on the 18th green.
McDowell registered a birdie at the first and a double-bogey at the eighth on his outward nine on Sunday but five bogeys on his inward nine during his final round saw him drop down the leaderboard for a tie of 57th place.
"I wish I could have played a little better at the end but I'm not going to let that back nine destroy this past week and how I feel about it because it has been such a great experience on so many levels," he said.
"It was disappointing today but the golf course found me out a little bit in the end. I'm not 100% on top of my game at the moment.
"When it got tough out there, I couldn't get it on the fairway and I lost a ball at the eighth - that knocked the wind out of my sails a little bit.
"The golf course has been phenomenal and the R&A have done a phenomenal job for the players. The golf course has been exceptionally well presented and to have an Irishman at the top of the leaderboard is so special."
McDowell was the only player from Northern Ireland to make the cut after Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke fell short in their attempts to make the final two days of competition.