Record Crowds at Carnoustie Set Up Open Extravaganza at Royal Portrush
ONE of the chief reasons that Carnoustie was removed from the Open rota from 1975 until 1999 was because the area could not cope with the huge influx of spectators that attended the tournament. Poor transport links and a shortage of suitable accommodation were a serious problem as interest in the world’s oldest major continued to grow. Those days seem a long way off, with the news that this year's tournament attracted a record-breaking crowd of 172,000.
This easily surpassed the 157,000 total set in 1999, when Paul Lawrie won, with more than 20,000 of those attending the event under the age of 25 - this is great news at a time when there are serious concerns about the average age of club golfers around the globe. More than 4,000 spectators took advantage of free accommodation for young people and a low-cost rate for adults at The Open Camping Village, which was full to capacity on the Friday and Saturday nights.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, said, “We have enjoyed a thrilling and memorable week of golf and Carnoustie’s world famous links has shown why it is revered by fans and players all over the world as one of our sport’s great championship venues.
“We would like to thank every single person who visited Carnoustie for generating a very special atmosphere that has been enjoyed by the players and the millions of TV viewers watching The Open around the world.”
Attention now turns to the 148th Open, which will be staged in Northern Ireland for only the second time in its history. It will be held at the magnificent Royal Portruish from July 18-21. The only other time that The Open was played in Northern Ireland was back in 1951, when it was won by Max Faulkner, and tickets are already on sale, with the R&A expecting all records to be smashed.
The Emerald Isle has produced three champions - Fred Daly in 1947, Darren Clarke in 2011 and Rory McIlroy in 2014. The 2019 edition will be all-ticket and it is a safe bet that a crowd well in excess of 200,000 will be in attendance.
Clarke has played a key role in securing The Open for Royal Portrush. “It’s hard to contain my excitement now we are one year out from The Open. The place is buzzing. I’ve been in Portrush a lot recently and all the work is being completed, all the little touches for infrastructure that most would never imagine, with all the cabling under the ground and everything. It’s going to be a huge honour and privilege to have the biggest tournament in the world in our town.”
McIlroy was keen to head to Northern Ireland as defending champion but had to be content with finishing joint runner-up to Francesco Molinari. "The 2019 Open is something that’s been on my radar for a long time.
I never thought I’d be able to play an Open at home. I’m going to be very proud to showcase where I’m from and to play in front of all the people who have supported me throughout my career. It is going to be really cool.
“It would have been nice to go in there with a Claret Jug but I'm excited to play an Open at Portrush. That will be unbelievable.”
Molinari is already looking forward to defending his title. “I played there in 2012 at the Irish Open. I was paired for the first two rounds with Darren Clarke and he had just won The Open the year before. The atmosphere was something else, so I'm sure it's going to be a great championship, a great Open.
“I've heard they've changed the course quite a lot but hopefully by then this victory will have sunk in, and I'll realise what I've done!”
The R&A has launched ticket sales earlier than ever before to meet the expected demand as the Championship moves to an all-ticket model for the first time in its history, with sell-out crowds anticipated at Royal Portrush. Incredibly, more than 30% of all tickets and hospitality places have already been sold.
Fans can join The One Club for free by visiting TheOpen.com/TheOneClub in order to gain exclusive access to priority tickets and secure their place for the historic return of The Open to Royal Portrush.
The oldest & most prestigious major, a trip to The Open is a must for every golf fan. From tickets and transfers to hospitality & golf, Golfbreaks.com can build the perfect package to help you experience The Open in style.
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