David Gilliland endured flight delays and broken trains on Sunday but maintains nothing can take away from his sense of pride at watching Rory McIlroy lift the Claret Jug.
David travelled over to England with a friend, David Betts, for the final day of the Open Championship in Liverpool - grabbing a prime spot on the 18th green to join in the celebrations as Northern Ireland’s finest golfer lifted the famous prize.
“We purchased our tickets via the PGA website quite a while ago but I was glued to the television coverage last week watching Rory pull away from the field,” said David, a former member of Tandragee Golf Club who lives in Donaghcloney. “Our aim was to follow Rory and Darren Clarke as much as possible on the final day.
“We caught Rory’s tee-off shot and kept a few holes ahead every time to try and claim a decent spot.
“It also allowed us to catch some of the other players but it was great to see so much of Rory’s round.
“We left the 12th to head over to the 18th for the final hole and even at that stage it was packed.
“Thankfully, we got close to the rope and that provided an ideal view when it came to the presentation ceremony.”
The experience within Hoylake may have been memorable for Gilliland but travel to and from the venue proved problematic.
“The plan was to head out at 8.30 on Sunday morning but we arrived to discover a three-hour delay on the flight from Belfast,” he said. “The airport was packed with people obviously dressed for the golf.
“We had to change our plans due to the delay so jumped in a taxi from the airport and went directly to Royal Liverpool.
“On the way home, there was a train breakdown so that led to another delay of standing at the course station for well over an hour as part of a massive queue of people.
“Thankfully, we did not have to chase a flight that night and ended up having a great time in Liverpool on Monday before coming home.
“The people in Liverpool were so warm and friendly and delighted to hear the Northern Ireland accent.
“Loads of people were talking about Rory and the golf, even on the Monday.
“It was the same on the course, maybe due to the connections between Liverpool and Northern Ireland.
“You could feel the majority of the crowd getting behind Rory.
“Ulster flags would pop up now and again and plenty of people from back home had obviously made the trip over to Liverpool for the Open.
“There was massive support for Rory and his only mistake was talking in the presentation ceremony about Manchester United Football Club as that attracted plenty of boos from the crowd.”
David admits his Open trip has rekindled a passion for the game.
“We want to go over as often as possible now to watch the Open, plus I am keen to get back playing,” he said. “Credit to the organisers and people behind the Open as everything seemed really professional and not even the travel issues could take anything away from such a brilliant experience.”