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Tiger Woods' triumph sparks new Portrush ticket scramble


Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
In awe: Gary McNeill

By Paul Kelly

The perfect storm of Tiger Woods winning the Masters and extra tickets going on sale for July's Open Championship at Royal Portrush sent the Royal & Ancient (R&A) ticket site into meltdown yesterday.

Woods' remarkable victory at Augusta National has raised the excitement levels another notch ahead of The Open's historic return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years.

July 18-21 are the dates and Royal Portrush professional Gary McNeill said: "We were already looking forward to seeing him at Royal Portrush but for him to come here as reigning Masters champion will make it extra special.

"Perhaps that was reflected with so many people looking to get tickets. I'm sure many people would have been looking those tickets anyway but the fact Tiger won no doubt spurred more people on to try and get their hands on them.

"He is such a big draw and you could see that at Augusta with everyone cheering and clapping him onto every tee and green.

"Everyone was delighted to see him win.

"He will be thinking grand slam now. Next month's PGA Championship is at Bethpage where he has won before and then the upcoming US Open is at Pebble Beach where he won in style back in 2000.

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"Imagine if he arrives at Royal Portrush with those two under his belt as well? Now that would be incredible."

Last year, tickets for championship days, Thursday to Sunday, at Royal Portrush sold out in record time prompting the R&A to explore increasing the capacity.

A further 15,000 were released yesterday to fans who had joined the preferential One Club waiting list.

Such was the demand, the site could not cope and crashed offline for a time.

An R&A spokesman said: “We have seen extremely high levels of demand for tickets today which led to us experiencing some technical issues with the website. These issues were resolved earlier and we are now receiving orders from fans purchasing tickets.

“We have communicated with members of The One Club to keep them informed. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused and would encourage those fans on the waiting list to keep trying via the website.”

Woods has never played the Dunluce Course but his victory on Sunday ensures that he will deservedly be one of the favourites to lift the Claret Jug in July.

He said in November that he plans to travel early to the event in July, “probably in the week before just to help familiarise myself with the course”.

Gary added: “It was unbelievable after what he has been through in the last 10 years.

“To come back and win a major, I wasn’t sure he would do it but having won the Tour Championship at the tail end of last year obviously proved to himself that he could do it.

“To be able to do it, in the most difficult of circumstances on a course that tests every aspect of your game. It was fantastic.”

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