Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler back Open return to Portrush
A ringing endorsement from two of the top golfers in the world.
Some glowing endorsements for Royal Portrush and Irish golf fans, and the welcoming public, that will surely help the County Antrim course and its case to hold more Open Championships. Having Shane Lowry win the Claret Jug by six clear strokes does no harm either.
One of the issues with getting a feel for how a golf course is playing, when you are watching on TV, is that there are not enough ground level shots. Many of the shots we watch are recorded from the high towers so you often find it hard to see what the players themselves are dealing with out there.
At one stage, during his final round on Sunday, Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood had a chip off the back of the 13th green. We were treated to a great shot, at ground level, on this occasion and you'd almost gasp for the poor Englishman.
He was only 30 yards away from the hole but there were three severe bumps he had to negotiate and only 10 feet of flat green to play with. In the end, Fleetwood played a gem - pitching over two undulations and using the down slope of the third to check his approach - to get to within four feet and get his par.
Following his final round of 75, Fleetwood told reporters:
"It was just tough. I think everybody would have got to a point [around the turn] and start going backwards, they played really, really difficult. When the winds are like that on a links course, it plays hard, that's just the way it is. You've got to do your bit. I think that makes Shane's round of +1 even more impressive, controlling the day like he did.
"But it was just brutal. That is part of the Open generally, that's what it's supposed to be like. It was rough at times. I think the course played really, really difficult."
Sunday, with the winds and rain up, was definitely brutal and some golfers were punished by the out-of-bounds areas, especially if they overhit drives or approaches. Still, when conditions were good, there were plenty of rounds in the 60s, topped by Lowry's course record (on the 'new course') of 63.
Two of the USA's top golf stars, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, had plenty of highs and lows around Portrush. Fowler, who carded a 66 on Saturday, finished in a tie for 6th while Spieth (67 carded on Friday) was tied 20th after a final round struggle of 77.
Speaking in the press tent after the finished out their final rounds, both gave glowing endorsements to the course, coastal town and people.
"It was amazing, I hope [Portrush] is on the rotation [for majors]. I enjoyed the golf course. It played tough and fair. It was scoreable yesterday and maybe the afternoon before. And they had it today it was really, really tough and showed its teeth.
"In the town itself, the people were top-notch. This tournament; they always are. Here and Augusta are my two favourite events in the entire world, and it never disappoints. And it didn't here. It was awesome."
"I'd love to have to be back. I think this golf course is a great test. It's very different from what I've seen from a lot of kind of traditional links golf courses. There's a lot of more forced carries and doglegs. It does force you to play the ball in the air a bit more and test your ball-striking. You can't just get away with scooting one out there or running one into a green.
"To score well you have to fly balls on to the green in a lot of areas. And when it's windy like this, it's hard to control the ball through the air.
"It's a great test. We got over here on Saturday, had a great time hanging in the town of Portrush Saturday night, Sunday night, had some dinner down there. Really good people. The fans have been amazing here. They've been super excited to have The Open here.
"I don't see any downfall, other than... actually, I think the weather turned out to be better every day than it was supposed to be. I don't see any negative of it being back here."