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Champ Dyson anticipating 'fantastic' week

WHEN Simon Dyson won the Irish Open in Killarney a year ago he had no idea his def-ence would be such a special tournament.

Royal Portrush is the venue this week and that means the event takes place in Northern Ireland - "major golf capital of the world" as the banners proclaim - for the first time since 1953.

The back-to-back US Open wins by Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy and then the Open Championship triumph by Darren Clarke last July brought an unprecedented spotlight on the country and this is their reward.

Or at least the first of their rewards - the hope is it will lead to The Open, last held at Portrush in 1951 - returning in the not-too-distant future.

The three local stars are all delighted to be playing at home, of course, and Dyson said: "All of the boys had said that it was a fantastic place to play golf and I know they were promoting it really well.

"That's what is deserves. The Irish Open is a fantastic tournament and it's set up a fantastic week - the crowds are going to be great."

Around 100,000 people are expected to attend and for the first time in a regular European Tour event the 'sold out' signs have gone up.