Rory McIlroy will be hoping to use that home support to his advantage as he seeks a second Open title and first major since 2014, but added that it's only part of the equation that might see him lift the Claret Jug. 

McIlroy said: "My dad brought me here to play on my 10th birthday, it was my present, and I met Darren Clarke that day.

"It's sort of surreal that it's here. Even driving in yesterday and you see someone like Tony Finau on the second tee, it's strange to see them here but it's really cool.

"It shows what we have done in terms of players, with GMac (Graeme McDowell) winning the US Open, Darren the Open and then some of the success I've had, and how Northern Ireland has come on as a country that we are able to host such a big event."

"I got here thinking the course is going to be set up different for the Open but it's still the same course"

McIlroy tried to play down the significance of his connection to Portrush, adding: "I'm just treating this like any other Open Championship.

"I have played well the last few years, I've played well on this course, so I just need to hit the shots, stay in the present and put one foot in front of the other.

"I know what I'm doing round here. I got here thinking the course is going to be set up different for the Open but it's still the same course.

"I was making it bigger in my head than it needed to be. I have played this place enough times to know where to hit it, where to miss it." 

Follow The Open Championship with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News Now App.