CHAMPIONSHIP Director Ben Watson expects crowds in excess of 70,000 for the 3 Irish Open that starts over the Killeen Course at Killarney on Thursday.
Watson has been the European Tour’s man on the ground for the past fortnight and last night reported himself extremely pleased with the venue and the golf course.
“Everything is coming along very nicely,” Watson said. “The tented village, the area around the clubhouse, the clubhouse itself, the golf course, we are delighted with everything to do with the tournament.
“Our sponsors, 3 and Fáilte Ireland, the golf club and the Tour are all making a concerted effort to ensure that our visitors have a great time and that the event is regarded as one of the best on the circuit this year.
“Our tournament director David Probyn has arrived and has been out to see the golf course and is very happy with its condition. It’s been wet in these parts in recent weeks but it has been drying out nicely and looking good for the week. “We’ve had our first weather forecast and it’s quite favourable, especially so at the weekend when there ought to be plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 20 to 23 degrees.”
Watson accepts the Irish weather will have a major say in the turnout for the event. He is encouraged by the numbers present when the Open was last held in Killarney in 1991 and ‘92, adding that “we expect something in the order of 70 to 80,000 and maybe even more than that if the weather is on our side.”
He has been impressed by the atmosphere in the town of Killarney and their expectation of a great tournament.
“There’s a really positive feel about the place”, he enthused. “The Summer Festival is under way and will culminate in the golf tournament. I believe it’s going to be a great Bank Holiday weekend that will put the 3 Irish Open exactly where it should be. Irish golf is in a very good place and we have the US Open champion here along with a number of outstanding Irish players and many others chasing the €3m prize fund.”
The golfers begin to arrive today with several set to take part in the Des Smyth Links charity event over the Lackabane course.
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