Francesco Molinari said this year’s Open Championship will be “extra special” as he prepares to try and defend the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush, the first time the tournament has been played on Northern Irish soil for 68 years.
Molinari, who emerged from a thrilling final day at Carnoustie a year ago to become the first Italian to win a major, will begin his quest alongside American Bryson DeChambeau and Australian Adam Scott.
“Any week you defend it’s special, but this week will be extra special,” he said at his news conference on Monday after the pairings for the first two days were announced.
“I just want to enjoy it as much as possible and like I did at the Ryder Cup, I want to soak in the atmosphere.”
It will also be a special week for Northern Ireland’s contingent, including Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy.