Carton House comes in for universal praise after Irish Open
Four-day attendance total of 81,379 compares very favourably with the figures for Killarney in 2010 and 2011
The four-day event at Carton House attracted a satisfactory attendance.
As a number-crunching exercise, and more, the Irish Open at Carton House was a success. Some 24,173 people attended Sunday’s final round – despite the sporting clash of the Dublin-Kildare football game in Croke Park – and brought the four-day attendance to a total of 81,379, which compared very favourably with the figures for Killarney in 2010 and 2011.
Although short of the record numbers which attended Royal Portrush for last year’s staging on the north Antrim coast, it should be noted that no regular tournament on the European Tour has ever come close to the 112,280 that attended the Dunluce links in 2012. It is anticipated that the Irish Open will return to Portrush in 2015, part of a cycle that could see the tournament staged every three years in the North.
The entire staging at Carton House worked extremely well, with the course set-up and conditioning coming in for universal praise from the players. However, if, as seems likely, the championship returns to Carton House again next year, then it is expected to be staged on the O’Meara Course rather than on the Montgomerie Couse which has now played host to three Irish Opens (in 2005, 2006 and 2012).
Shane Lowry, the touring professional attached to Carton House, would support a staging in 2014 on the tree-lined O’Meara course which will have two new holes – the first and 18th, taking the course closer to the historic house and providing a more natural finish and end – in play next month.
“I’d love to be back. The Monty (course) is a great golf course but if the O’Meara golf course is set up properly, it would be a great tournament golf course. The atmosphere on (holes) 14, 15, 16 would be unbelievable through those trees ,” said Lowry.
If there was considerable disappointment at the failure of any of Ireland’s modern Major champions making it into weekend, the upside is that Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy are committed to the tournament.
Their guaranteed presence is a big plus as the tournament seeks to move on into the future, although the idea of McDowell that it should form a links swing with the Scottish Open and the British Open to form the meat of the European Tour’s summer is one that could attract a greater international (especially from the USA) presence.
Still, Paul Casey, the new champion, was of the opinion that the Irish Open doesn’t have to be played on a links every year. “One of my best golfing memories of Ireland is The K Club (the Ryder Cup in 2006), so it doesn’t necessarily have to be on a links course for an Irish Open. I disagree with that statement. It’s nice to be moving around. And wherever it is, I’ll support it.”