GOLFER Graeme McDowell will enjoy his first-ever Christmas away from his Irish home this year.
The 33-year-old told the Irish Independent that he's looking forward to spending the holiday in sunny Florida and embracing new traditions with his fiancee, Kristin Stape.
The couple touched down in Northern Ireland last Wednesday to celebrate their recent engagement and have an early Christmas dinner with McDowell's extended family and friends in Portrush. They returned to the US this morning, ahead of December 25.
"It's my first Christmas outside Portrush in 33 years, so my mum was a little teary eyed when we left," McDowell said.
"I've got to grow up at some point though, and it's been nice to spend time in Ireland getting into the festive spirit. I love coming home and catching up with everyone."
American-born Stape said that it'll be tough for her other half to be away from his family, but that this week has been very special for them.
"We are just going to start some new traditions," she said.
McDowell and Stape visited Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin yesterday, where he handed over a $200,000 (€151,770) cheque to help raise funds for a new cardiac unit.
Speaking about his foundation G- Mac's involvement, the golfer said: "It feels unreal to be in here and it's very important that we raise awareness about the new build and what's happening with this project."
The sporting star is also hosting a fundraising event in January and hopes to raise €1m to give to the hospital.
"It's very fun to be part of something like this. With my foundation G-Mac, we really wanted to focus on one thing, so to see the new build in Crumlin come to fruition, and engage personally in the project, is just amazing.
"It certainly puts my life in perspective coming to a place like this, especially around Christmas, putting a smile on a child's face."