Posts Tagged ‘Royal Birkdale’

R&A consider capping spectator numbers for Royal Portrush Open Championship

February 17, 2018

A visualisation of how the 18th green (the current 16th) will look in 2019

In an unprecedented move, the R&A is weighing up plans to cap spectator numbers at next year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The historic nature of The Open’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years coupled with the potential for a resurgent Rory McIlroy has given officials a headache as they consider how best to deal with what could be record-breaking crowds.
Given that the Irish Open in 2012 at the same venue was a sell-out – with over 130,000 people filling through the gates – R&A officials are now pondering a move which would be a first in 140+ years of the celebrated major Championship.
Speaking earlier this week R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said the issue was being given ‘serious consideration’.
“It’s not just the compactness [of the site], but what do fans really want, which is they want to get as close to the players as they possibly can, and that plays into how many people can we actually physically get into the complex, into the course and give them that experience. And so there’s a lot of work being done on that we haven’t concluded yet,” he said.

“I think there will be also a lot of Americans will be there, especially for the first time. I think it could be a big crowd. And if Rory keeps playing well, it’ll be an even bigger crowd.”

Last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, won by American Jordan Spieth, attracted record crowds for an Open on English soil with 235,000 people attending during tournament week which includes the practice days. It was the third highest ever, falling shy of the St Andrews Opens of 2000 (239,000) and 2015 (237,000).

To add some further context, individual daily attendance figures at the Open Championship regularly top 40,000. In 2014, when Rory McIlroy collected the Claret Jug at Hoylake, some 42,000 people came through the gates. Given that figure, upwards of 50,000 a day could well be expected at Royal Portrush.
Work is continuing apace at Royal Portrush to install the infrastructure needed to host the event next July which is set to include daily seating for approximately 20,000 spectators.
Two new holes on the championship Dunluce Links, designed by Mackenzie and Ebert and built specifically for the Open Championship were opened for play in July last year. The R&A will stage the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart from 14-19 August this year.


Harrington – “I’m different, I’m special. I’m very special.”

April 30, 2017

Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington leans back in his chair. He has spent 15 minutes discussing Tiger Woods and whether he will ever return to anything like his best after his latest back surgery.

While refusing to rule out the prospect of Woods winning again, he concedes that any player reaching his 40s and with a 20-year career under his belt will find it hard to remain ‘mentally focused’.
And then one of the assembled scribes pipes up; “What about you, what’s your motivation?”
“I’m different. I’m special. I’m very special,” claims the 45-year-old with a smile who just happens to be recovering from neck surgery.
“I actually believe I’m in a great place, I do. I think I’m aware of the difficulties with that but you know, I always want to be out there on my own and try and do things different and being different. That’s what’s gotten me where I am.”

You can’t argue with that fact. Harrington has always walked his own path and he is genuinely convinced that he can be a factor in future majors even if that totally contradicts the argument he’s just outlined.
He added; “Yeah, I’m aware of the difficulty of staying motivated. This is my 20th year, and to be honest right now, you would have said that I followed the path exactly that I just described of all the other players.
“I started off, built myself up, won my big tournaments, played okay and then tailed off and have won a couple of events at the end of my 20 years like everybody else. And that’s why I kind of think Tiger is going to have a couple of wins.
“Golf is great. It always throws a win out. It always gives you something later on. It would be very easy to say with me winning the Honda (2015) and me winning in Portugal (2016) was that, here you go, here’s one at the end of your career, thanks very much.

“But I believe I’m different and I have to believe. Even if I’m not, I have to believe I’m different. I have to convince myself that there’s more in me and I really do feel very strongly about where my own game is at.”

A trapped nerve in his neck forced Harrington into surgery back in March and with his recovery going well, he is targeting a return to action in time for the Irish Open at Portstewart and the Open Championship at Birkdale, scene of his 2008 success.
“I’ve got another five weeks before I play. It’s about getting the right preparation, the right type of practice done,” added Padraig.
“I think my first event is going to be Wentworth [BMW PGA Championship] in five weeks’ time. There’s no doubt that all my practice when I do get going, will be more thinking about The Open Championship, plus obviously, the Irish Open is two weeks before that.”
And he continued, “Believe it or not I have never played Portstewart. Strangely enough, as an amateur, I never got there. For whatever reason, I missed out.
“I know the course at Portstewart is great, everyone has told me about it and the venue is fantastic, everyone will be into it, there will be a buzz about it and that really adds to a golf tournament when there is more to do around the event.
“We play a lot of events and we can be in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the sticks and no-one knows that a golf tournament is on. That won’t be the case up north. Everyone will be into it, there will be an excitement and a buzz which really helps the players.”
Padraig was speaking at an event hosted by the R&A at Dun Laoghaire GC

Portstewart to host Irish Open in 2017 as part of links swing before Open Championship

July 27, 2016
Rory McIlroy with Colm McLoughlin, the Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club

Rory McIlroy with Colm McLoughlin, the Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club

Portstewart Golf Club will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open next year, launching a three-week spell of links golf culminating in the Open Championship.
The Irish Open was held at the K Club in May this year and won by tournament host Rory McIlroy, but in 2017 it will move to July 6-9, immediately preceding the Scottish Open at Dundonald and the Open at Royal Birkdale.
The move to Portstewart had been widely touted and followed the European Tour’s decision in April to take the event away from the Lough Erne Resort, but the change of date is a significant boost for the tournament which will be supported once again by the Rory Foundation.
“We’ve been working hard with The European Tour over the last couple years to try and find suitable venues and a suitable date for The Irish Open,” said Rory during Tuesday’s press conference ahead of the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
“We sort of knew a long time ago that Portstewart was going to be probably where we were going to go play it in 2017. To get that date right before the Scottish is huge.

“To play a round of links golf leading into the Open, hopefully we can attract some marquis names to come over and play. With it being at the start of July, hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get some decent weather.

“I think it can only be good for the event. I’m really excited for it. I’m excited that The European Tour have worked with us and helped us getting that date and getting suitable venues going forward. I’m excited for Portstewart next year.”
It is the third time the tournament will be played in Northern Ireland after previous outings at Royal County Down (2014) and Royal Portrush (2012)
McIlroy added; “Portstewart is an excellent links course and one of Northern Ireland’s hidden gems, so it’s great news that we are taking the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open there next year.
“Winning at the K Club earlier this year was without doubt one of the highlights of my career, and I’m already looking forward to defending my title at Portstewart next July.
“The crowds at Portrush and Royal County Down were unbelievable and I’m sure the people of Northern Ireland will come out to support the tournament again next year.”
The Scottish Open is guaranteed its coveted place in the calendar up to and including 2020, although the Irish Open is keen for that to change.
Speaking earlier this month, Martin Gilbert – chief executive of Scottish Open sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management – said: “I keep telling them they should switch the Irish and the French Open, and then you have the Irish, Scottish then the British. That would be the much more logical arrangement.”

Have a look at what the players will face next year

Founded in 1894 and long considered one of the country’s finest links courses, Portstewart will be staging a European Tour event for the first time when tournament host Rory McIlroy defends his title there next summer.
Portstewart features three 18-hole layouts, with the Des Giffin-designed Strand Course – which will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – considered the jewel in the crown.
The Strand Course has hosted numerous amateur tournaments including the 2014 Amateur Championship, which was won by Bradley Neil and just this month, staged two rounds of qualifying for the North of Ireland Amateur Championship.
Michael Moss, General Manager of Portstewart Golf Club, said: “We are delighted to team up with The European Tour to host the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“The Club will embrace the challenge, and we have no doubt that the Strand Course will provide nothing less than a worthy test of golf.”
For more information about tickets and corporate hospitality visit