Open a success despite setbacks

Bad weather and the loss of five of your six headline stars before the weekend would be enough to cripple most tour events.

But the Irish Open still emerged relatively unscathed from a week of uncontrollable mishaps at Carton House as 86,000 fans made the trip to the Maynooth venue.

While Major winners Rory McIlroy, Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley threw a spanner in the works by missing the cut, the official attendance for the four tournament days was 81,379 with another 4,793 attending the Wednesday pro-am.

While it was never the goal to try and match the European Tour record of 112,280 from Royal Portrush last year, this year’s figures compare favourable with the two Irish Opens held at Killarney where 81,738 turned up in 2010 and 85,179 in 2011.

Shane Lowry saved the day on Friday by putting himself in position to win and while he imploded on Saturday, he was cheered to the echo by a huge part of a 24,173 attendance yesterday as he finished in the top 10.

Given the vast expanses of the Montgomerie Course were too big for the 24,000 strong crowd and while a strong Irish challenge on Sunday could have attracted closer to 30,000 fans, the general consensus is the event would look far more attractive to a worldwide television audience if it were held on the tree-lined O’Meara Course at Carton.

The short term future of the event has yet to be decided and while moves to Druids Glen (2015) and Royal Portrush (2016) have been mentioned in tour circles, talks over the next few days will focus on a 2014 staging on the O’Meara Course.

The O’Meara hosted the 2005 Irish Amateur Open when Scotland’s Richie Ramsay won by two strokes from Dunmurry’s Darren Crowe, with 16-year old Rory McIlroy sixth.

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