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The Open: Record crowds make big splash in historic event

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the first green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the first green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Some say at the end of a rainbow, there's a pot of gold. In reality, it's Darren Clarke.
A scoreboard showing Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy +4 during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Rory McIlroy made a quadruple bogey eight on his first hole.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy walks down the fairway from the first hole during the first round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 18, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Who's proud of Our Wee Country right now?
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Republic of Ireland's James Sugrue tees off the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke celebrates his birdies on the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland lines up a putt on the second green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Amateur James Sugrue of Northern Ireland prepares to play a shot on the first hole during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays the opening tee shot off the first tee during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays the opening tee shot off the first tee during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
A spectator tries to adjust their umbrella during preview day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club (Richard Sellers/PA)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Tommy Fleetwood of England shields himself from the rain during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Spectators shelter from the rain during preview day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club (David Davies/PA)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Xander Schauffele of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Phil Mickelson of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy practices during the 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy walks through the walkway during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tees off the 1st during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark walk during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Penny for your thoughts, Rory?
Tiger Woods on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy on the practice ground during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Brooks Koepka (right) with caddy Ricky Elliott during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Brooks Koepka of the United States and caddie Ricky Elliott speak during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Portrush-born caddie Ricky Elliott is showing his man Brooks Koepka round his home town this week.
Portrush-born caddie Ricky Elliott is showing his man Brooks Koepka round his home town this week.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy on the practice ground during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Tiger Woods during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Tiger Woods on the 17th during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell walks along the fairway at the first hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Spain's Jon Rahm (L) and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell walk along the fairway at the first hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell tees off from the first hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland signs autographs during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland signs autographs during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
A view of USA's Tiger Woods club bag during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Tiger Woods on the 16th green during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Corey Conners of Canada looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, holds the the Claret Jug prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods tees off the 2nd during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Tiger Woods tees off on the 6th during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Tiger Woods on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Tiger Woods on the 8th Green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
US golfer Tiger Woods plays onto the 18th green during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Tiger Woods tess off on the 17th green during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Tiger Woods practices at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Tiger Woods putts on the 5th during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
US golfer Tiger Woods tees off from the 16th hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Italy's Francesco Molinari on the 2nd during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Crowds take photos of Tiger Woods on the 9th Tee during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
England's Tommy Fleetwood during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
England's Tommy Fleetwood during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Italy's Francesco Molinari during the press conference on preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Tiger Woods on the 17th tee during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Spain's Sergio Garcia signs autographs during day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Jim Furyk of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tommy Fleetwood of England looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tommy Fleetwood of England looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tony Finau of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland speaks to the media during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Jordan Spieth of the United States "shotguns" a can of water as caddie Michael Greller looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
A general view of 18th Green in front of the grandstand and the town of Portrush during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Rickie Fowler on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Jason Day signs autographs during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Louis Oosthuizen on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Rickie Fowler (left) and Tiger Woods on the 1st green during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Spectators watch play during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
England's Tommy Fleetwood checks his course notes during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
England's Tommy Fleetwood watches his shot during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
A view looking out over the course in the afternoon sunshine during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

By David Young

Torrential downpours greeted fans and players at Royal Portrush yesterday as the clock ticked down to the opening round of the Open.

Club captain Robert Barry said the return of the major championship, after a gap of almost 70 years, had put a smile on everybody's face.

As crowds thronged the fairways of the historic links course on the fourth and final practice day before the action proper got under way this morning, Mr Barry said the overriding mood was one of "fun".

"Everyone has a smile on their face, both members and the spectators who are coming in and also the R&A and the players," he said.

Mr Barry paid tribute to the role of Stormont's politicians in convincing tournament organisers, the R&A, to once again cross the Irish Sea.

"For years we were seen as a bit of a pariah country, but it never was and we never got the opportunity," he said.

"We didn't get a chance, people didn't come and the world has opened their eyes and the media has opened the world's eyes to what we have here and more and more people are seeing it and coming to see it.

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"People got together, from politicians through to members of the golf club, and somebody who has been left out of this to an extent is the late Martin McGuinness and what he did behind the scenes.

"They have worked very, very hard and it has come together. And now there's just excitement - Portrush is buzzing, Northern Ireland is buzzing and the whole island of Ireland is buzzing."

David McMullan, deputy chairman of the club's championship committee, said people in the seaside town have talked about little else since it was announced in 2014 that the tournament would be returning.

Spectators shelter from the rain
Spectators shelter from the rain

"For the last five years it's been the talking point, everyone if they go out to the bar and have a chat it's 'The Open is coming'."

Mr McMullan said the whole town has never looked so good, highlighting the success of a multi-million pound facelift ahead of the event.

"Living in Northern Ireland there was a time when it wouldn't have happened with the peace process," he said of the Open's return.

"The local politicians of all sides have been very engaged in the whole process and when we see everything going on out on the course now, you see everyone having a good time and smiling and all the fun that's going on we're just reaping the rewards of where we are now."

A record-breaking crowd of 237,750 will attend the event, setting a record for a Championship staged outside St Andrews.

This year's attendance also surpasses the crowd of 235,000 that attended Royal Birkdale in 2017 and the 237,000 mark set at St Andrews in 2015 - making it the second largest Championship ever.

A record-breaking 61,000 fans have attended practice days at the 148th Open, surpassing the previous high of 52,000 set at Hoylake in 2006.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive at the R&A, said: "This is a huge week not just for The Open but for golf as well.

"We are making history with a record attendance for a Championship staged outside of St Andrews and the levels of excitement among fans this week have been phenomenal.

"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.

"We would like to thank all the fans for their passion and enthusiasm as we look forward to finding out who will lift the Claret Jug on Sunday. The Open would not be the success it is without the spectators."

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