It was wet, it was windy, but nothing was going to stop fans turning out in huge numbers on Thursday for the first Irish Open in Northern Ireland since 1953.
Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, the three major champions whose success helped to bring the event back across the border, were always going to have the biggest galleries lining the fairways.
But while none of them was able to break 70, Indian Jeev Milkha Singh and France's Gregory Bourdy were certainly not complaining about the number following them as they set the pace - either side of a 95-minute storm delay - with seven-under-par 65s.
"The atmosphere and the feel to the golf course is fantastic," said 40-year-old Singh. "When you have so many people cheering and watching you I think you feel great."
England's Mark Foster, part of a group on 66, commented: "It was just amazing out there. I got a six o'clock car to the course and, I kid you not, there were people queueing to get in - even though the rain was coming sideways.
"I've never seen a buzz in the players' lounge like there is this week. People are raving about the course and the size of the crowds."
It is the first time organisers put the "sold out" signs up for a regular European Tour event, with 27,000 tickets purchased for each day's play.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy Martin McGuinness, fresh from his historic handshake with The Queen a day earlier, were also in attendance to witness scenes that might one year soon be repeated at an Open Championship.
McDowell was the first of the three local heroes into action, but hitting a pitch into bushes for a double bogey seven on the 581-yard 17th - his eighth - took the wind out of his sails and he had to settle for a one under 71.
Clarke, yet to make his first halfway cut of the year and out for the past month with a groin strain, contented himself with matching that after a hat-trick of bogeys had left him two over after eight.
World number two McIlroy, meanwhile, reached four under, but three-putted the 16th and 18th in what he called "a sloppy finish" and signed for a 70.
Before the tournament Clarke had presented Singh with a bottle of 21-year-old Bushmills single malt whisky, but he is keeping that until he can share it with his father Milkha - the "Flying Sikh" who lost out on an Olympic 400 metres medal in a photo-finish in 1960 and about whom a film is currently being made.
Singh, whose own dream is to represent India on the sport's return to the Games in 2016, is a real lover of links golf.
Not that anybody who witnessed his first experience of it would have guessed that - as a 16-year-old in 1988 he competed in the Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl in Wales, but had rounds of 87 and 84 there and at Pyle and Kenfig to miss out on the match play stages.
"I thought 'My God, this is tough'. I wasn't used to wearing raingear." He has got used to that now - and clearly improved.
Dubliner Padraig Harrington, playing with McDowell and equally thrilled at seeing the tournament come north, pitched in from around 60 yards for birdie on his penultimate hole and with a 67 is firmly in the hunt.
Defending champion Simon Dyson, the third member of the group, matched that, while Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and Scot Paul Lawrie - playing together for the third time in under two months - both shot 69.
Another former Open champion, American John Daly, was in the first group out at 7.30am and returned a 71.
Asked if he was a good early riser he replied: "I am now. I get up when I used to get in!"
Much to everyone's relief, the event resumed in bright sunshine after the stoppage and the round was completed.
Bourdy did not finish until 8.40pm and would have been outright leader if he had birdied the long ninth, but he parred it.
Collated first round scores in the European Tour The Irish Open Royal Portrush GC, Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):
65 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Gregory Bourdy (Fra)
66 Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Andrew Marshall, Matthew Zions (Aus), Edouard Dubois (Fra), Mark Foster, Oscar Floren (Swe)
67 Peter Whiteford, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Warren Abery (Rsa), Simon Dyson, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Anthony Wall, Michael Jonzon (Swe), Keith Horne (Rsa), Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Padraig Harrington
68 Alex Haindl (Rsa), Richard Bland, Carlos Del Moral (Spa), Gary Orr, Ross Fisher, James Morrison, Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Thomas Norret (Den), Mark O'sullivan, Jamie Donaldson, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe), Bradley Dredge
69 Andrew Johnston, Mikael Lundberg (Swe), Robert Jan Derksen (Ned), Ricardo Santos (Por), Steven O'Hara, Graeme Storm, Jose-Maria Olazabal (Spa), Christian Nilsson (Swe), Steve Webster, Richie Ramsay, Paul Waring, Marcel Siem (Ger), David Lynn, Mark Murphy, Romain Wattel (Fra), Paul Lawrie, Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Rich Beem (USA), Fabrizio Zanotti (Par), Paul McGinley
70 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Garth Mulroy (Rsa), Robert Coles, Peter Hedblom (Swe), Kenneth Ferrie, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa), John Daly (USA), Paul Cutler, Joel Sjoholm (Swe), Rory McIlroy, Simon Thornton, Michael Hoey, Jamie Moul, Estanislao Goya (Arg), Matthew Baldwin, Lee Slattery, David Drysdale, Thomas Levet (Fra), Richard Sterne (Rsa)
71 Alan Dunbar, Damien McGrane, Jorge Campillo (Spa), Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa), Felipe Aguilar (Chi), Gary Boyd, Robert Rock, Daniel Denison, Marc Warren, Niclas Fasth (Swe), Markus Brier (Aut), Sam Little, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (Spa), Graeme McDowell, David Howell, Matthew Nixon, Phillip Price, David Horsey, Dermot Mcelroy, Darren Clarke, Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg)
72 Michael Collins, James Kingston (Rsa), Joost Luiten (Ned), Matteo Manassero (Ita), Johan Edfors (Swe), Jamie Elson, Jordi Garcia (Spa), Shane Lowry, George Murray, Hennie Otto (Rsa), Richard McEvoy, Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Simon Khan, Brett Rumford (Aus), Chris Devlin, Stephen Gallacher, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Andrea Pavan (Ita), Richard Finch, Reinier Saxton (Ned), Ignacio Garrido (Spa)
73 Craig Lee, Michael Campbell (Nzl), Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Danny Willett, Peter Lawrie, Keegan Bradley (USA), Andy Sullivan, Tommy Fleetwood, Federico Colombo (Ita), Richard Green (Aus)
74 Tjaart Van Der Walt (Rsa), Shiv Kapur (Ind), David Dixon, Julien Guerrier (Fra), Matthew Southgate, Pablo Martin (Spa), Oliver Fisher
75 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Gareth Maybin, Branden Grace (Rsa), Rhys Davies, Andrew Dodt (Aus), David Higgins
76 Colin Montgomerie, Knut Borsheim (Nor), Tim Sluiter (Ned), Niall Kearney, Mark Staunton
77 Barrie Trainor, Damian Mooney, Daniel Miernicki (USA), Harry Diamond, Scott Jamieson
78 Chris Wood, George Coetzee (Rsa), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (Ind)
80 Eamonn Brady, Patrick Mccrudden
82 John G Kelly
83 Sam Hutsby