Darren Clarke is relishing special moment as he tees off first at Open Championship

As one of the major driving forces in helping to bring The Open back to Portrush, Darren Clarke knows how special this week is going to be.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 4:23 pm
Darren Clarke will his the first tee shot at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush

Clarke, along with Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy play a key role in the tournament returning to the north coast for the first time since 1951.

The 50-year-old with get proceedings underway on Thursday morning with the first tee shot.

But now all the planning and preparation is done and dusted how will Clarke and the other local golfers cope with the pressure from the vast home support?

"If you're playing well, having all that support and stuff is wonderful," said Clarke, who won The Open at Royal St George's back in 2011.

"If you're not playing so well, then you're maybe trying too hard because the crowd wanted you to play well. That's part of it.

"It's always been the same when the Irish guys are playing at home in the Irish Open, that's been part of it. And obviously here, this is even bigger. This is huge. This is the biggest and best tournament in the world.

"So it's part of dealing with your own expectations is part of the whole thing. But as you guys know, I've always been good and bad, pretty hard on myself in the past.

"But I'm determined this week to enjoy it the best I can. Whether I play well or don't play well, it's a huge thing for all the Irish golfers, for Northern Ireland, for me, that lives here a little bit, to have The Open Championship.

"So I'll try and enjoy it as much as I possibly can."

Clarke is certainly looking forward to teeing off, he had no hesitation in saying yes when he was asked about it last month.

"Mr. Slumbers asked me about three weeks ago if I would do them the honor of hitting the opening tee shot," he revealed.

"And it's Royal Portrush and when The R&A asked you, it's a definite yes. I said I'd love it.

"It's the first time we've been here since 1951, and he asked me to do it and I happily accept. Sometimes it can be a good draw teeing off here at half 6:00 in the morning. We shall see.

"As soon as he asked me it was always going to be a yes. Will there be tears? No. I'll just be very proud that we have it back here in Northern Ireland.

"I think The Open Championship is going to start, and I think the other guys would say the same sort of thing. It goes without saying, it's a huge thing to have it back here in Northern Ireland again.

"It's going to be an amazing tournament. If you see how many people were in here yesterday watching and again today and all the practice tickets are all sold out. The atmosphere is going to be sensational."