Defending champion ready for 'extra special' Open
Defending champion Francesco Molinari is ready for an "extra special" atmosphere as the Open Championship returns to Northern Ireland.
The Italian will be in a minority of players that has previously played an event at Royal Portrush as golf's oldest championship returns to the Dunluce Links for the first time since 1951, the only occasion in 159 years that the Open was not held in Scotland or England.
Molinari, bidding to become the first back-to-back winner since Padraig Harrington in 2007-08, will be one of 21 to tee off with experience of the 2012 Irish Open - when he was paired with Darren Clarke, who still had possession of the claret jug from his Royal St George's win of 2011.
"Being paired with Darren the first round, it was something I still remember," Molinari said.
"So I can only imagine what the Open is going to be. It is going to be even bigger, going back to Northern Ireland after so many years. Defending is always special, but defending in a place where the tournament has not been for so long I'm sure is going to be extra special."
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