This week’s 148th Open at Royal Portrush is officially the most attended Championship staged outside St Andrews with the R&A announcing on Wednesday that there will be a record-breaking crowd of 237,750 for the tournament starting on Thursday.
With the pressure of securing a starting spot in his hometown Open Championship later this month now lifted, Graeme McDowell is relishing the opportunity to free his mind and concentrate on the task at hand: a good week in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
With only a limited number of tickets remaining for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open this weekend, tournament host Paul McGinley has all the validation he needs that bringing the European Tour to Lahinch was the right call, regardless of which stars tee it up on the prestigious links tomorrow.
Ireland’s best amateurs went their separate ways this week but whether the US Amateur or the Home Internationals are their next port of call, they departed in buoyant mood following an excellent collective showing at the European Individual Amateur in Slovakia last week.
Irish team captain Tony Goode has backed late call-ups Robin Dawson and Rowan Lester to make the most of the opportunities handed to them by the withdrawals of Paul Dunne and Gary Hurley from next week’s Home International defence at Royal Portrush.
A new title sponsor, superstar host, stellar field and a bigger prizefund. As if things were not already going swimmingly for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, organisers last night confirmed that today’s first-round ticket sales at Royal County Down (RCD) had made the tournament completely sold out.
With a playing group that could be lifted straight from a major championship draw, Rory McIlroy will tee off at Royal County Down tomorrow with praise ringing in his ears for putting the Irish Open back on the golfing map.
Royal Portrush has been pencilled in for a return to the British Open rota in 2019 but in what has been an awkward and politically sensitive three-hand reel between the R&A, the Northern Ireland Executive and the club, it will be several months at least before a definitive date can be announced.