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Irish Open 2015: Fans are hailed for creating a terrific atmosphere

By Steven Beacom

The Championship director of the European Tour has paid tribute to the spectators who came out in their thousands to support this year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

The tournament was sold out and despite the dreadful weather conditions, which were a feature of the four days, the fans created a magical atmosphere, greatly appreciated by the players.

Many of the stars on show could not believe that so many people were out watching them in the driving wind and pouring rain as the European Tour celebrated what was a hugely successful event.

Championship director Antonia Beggs said: "I am in complete awe and admiration of the golfing fans who have come out every single day, rain or shine, wind or no wind, to come and support the best golfers on the planet.

"I am really, really proud to have been involved in a tournament where there are such amazing people coming to see the players play. I am thrilled about that."

The tournament at Royal County Down repeated the feat of the 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush by selling out, showing once again the great support for golf in Northern Ireland.

Ms Beggs added: "2012 was a sell-out and this year has been a sell-out. We did have a cap of 20,000 on the gate so I don't know how many would have been here had we gone up to 30,000. Put it this way we don't assume we are going to sell out but coming to Northern Ireland has been brilliant because the tournaments are so well supported here."

She also had high praise for the golf course which at the end of four gruelling rounds saw only five players break par for the 72 holes.

"The golf course has looked unbelievably brilliant on the television. 440 million homes are reached by our television coverage and anyone seeing these pictures is going to want to come and play this golf course. The players have said that they have adored coming to a pure links golf experience so I'm really happy with it," she added.

In two years time the Irish Open is back in Northern Ireland at the Lough Erne resort in Co Fermanagh.

"I have been to Lough Erne once and it is a lovely venue but first we will take stock of this year, work out where we go next year and then think about the year after," added Antonia.

Over the course of the week there has been talk in the locker room amongst players about bringing a World Golf Championship event to Ireland, given the number of fans attracted to the Irish Open.

Is there a chance such a tournament could come to Royal County Down?

The European Tour's Championship director is not so sure.

She said: "When you start talking about tournaments bigger than the Irish Open you start having to change the course slightly. The Royal County Down course is fantastic but it is a members course and you must remember it is incredibly sacrosanct to them."

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