Irish Open 2012: Graeme McDowell 'expects to play well' at Portrush

Graeme McDowell says he "expects to play well" in this week's Irish Open at his hometown course at Royal Portrush.

McDowell, who won the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, said: "There will be a bit of extra pressure and the event will have the feel of a major.

"To see the town I grew up in scrubbed up and ready for one of the biggest events on the European Tour makes me very proud.

"The golf course will be of major championship standard."

He added: "There will be plenty of expectation from the fans. The course is in fantastic condition and it's exciting to have it laid out and conditioned for a Tour event.

"Royal Portrush is a golf club with a huge amount of history, given that the Open was been staged here in 1951.

"But in the modern era this is one of the proudest moments for this golf club, for the area and for Northern Ireland.

"It's a huge thrill to see such a great field assembled and everyone is buzzing and excited after all the hard work and preparation."

McDowell became the first of a trio of Northern Ireland major winners when he won at Pebble Beach, with Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke following suit with wins in the US Open and Open Championship in 2011.

He added: "To be one of the three or four guys who helped make this happen through our major successes also gives me a huge sense of pride - it's great to have played a part and it's kind of a dream come true".

McDowell has been paired with defending champion Simon Dyson and Padraig Harrington for Thursday's opening round.

The trio will start at the 10th tee at 07:50 BST, while Clarke and McIlroy are among the afternoon starters.

Leading tee times for Irish Open round one on Thursday

10th hole

07:30 BST - John Daly, Peter Lawrie, Thomas Levet

07:40 - Nicolas Colsaerts, Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Lawrie

07:50 - Graeme McDowell, Simon Dyson, Padraig Harrington

08:00 - Michael Hoey, Thongchai Jaidee, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano

1st hole

12:30 - Gareth Maybin, Thorblem Olesen, Darren Fichardt

12:40 - Francesco Molinari, Darren Clarke, Rafa Cabrera-Bello

12:50 - Rory McIlroy, Branden Grace, Keegan Bradley

13:10 - George Coetzee, Colin Montgomerie, Paul McGinley

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