PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Graeme McDowell is delighted that the "fruits" of his labour have helped get the British Open to return to his homeland of Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.
An official announcement is expected to be made by the Royal & Ancient (R&A) on Monday, saying that the 2019 Open championship will be held at Royal Portrush in McDowell's hometown.
McDowell said after the U.S. Open first round on Thursday that he and his fellow Northern Irish golfers, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, had long been trying to persuade the R&A to bring the Open back to their homeland.
"It's a result of a lot of gentle ribbing in the direction of Mr. Dawson (R&A chief executive Peter Dawson) the last four or five years from myself and McIlroy and Clarke," McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, told reporters at Pinehurst.
"It's nice to see the fruits of our labour. It's going to be a very special thing for Northern Ireland and Ireland in general. It speaks volumes of how far the country has come.
"I'm very proud of where I grew up. I'm very proud of the tradition and history there."
But McDowell, who will be 40 in 2019, is not taking his participation in that year's British Open for granted.
"I just hope I'm exempt and playing well," he said, after carding a two-under-par 68 at Pinehurst.
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)