Record-breaking crowds at Royal Portrush for 148th Open

Rory McIlroy at Royal Portrush for the 148th Open. Credit: INPHO

The 148th Open at Royal Portrush has set a new attendance record for a championship staged outside St Andrews, with 237,750 people attending.

Practice days alone have already pulled in 61,000 golf fans, surpassing the previous high of 52,000 set at Hoylake in 2006.

But the event as a whole has also exceeded expectations to become the second largest championship ever - beaten only by the 239,000-strong crowd recorded at St Andrews in 2000.

Royal Portrush has only hosted the Open once before, the 80th championship back in 1951 when England’s Max Faulkner won his only major title.

Golf’s governing body, the R&A, has hailed the history-making attendance at this year’s event.

Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said: “I said last year that big time sport needs big time crowds and we certainly have that at Royal Portrush as we stage the biggest sporting event ever to be held in Northern Ireland.

“The eyes of the sporting world are firmly set on Royal Portrush.”

Tiger Woods is among the stars of the golfing world competing at Royal Portrush. Credit: INPHO

The R&A is continuing to try to open the sport up to younger fans.

Overall, 30,000 fans under the age of 25 are attending the Open, including 21,000 children under the age of 16 who attend free of charge thanks to the long-running Kids Go Free initiative.

Having been played on iconic golf courses since 1980, the Open is golf’s oldest championship.

It is said to deliver an annual economic benefit of up to £100m to its host region.

The coveted Claret Jug at Royal Portrush on the North Coast. Credit: INPHO

The Open’s Biggest Attendances

  • 2000 - St Andrews, Scotland: 239,000

  • 2019 - Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland: 237,750

  • 2015 - St Andrews, Scotland: 237,000

  • 2017 - Royal Birkdale, England: 235,000

  • 2006 - Royal Liverpool, England: 230,000