Northern Ireland

The Open 2019 diary: Game of cones and tears before tee time

Tiger Woods walks past a sign at Royal Portrush that reads: The Open Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Open week began with Tiger Woods making an appearance at Royal Portrush

As the Open arrives in Northern Ireland, BBC News NI brings you news and views from Royal Portrush.

Open in numbers

After decades in the making and years in the planning, golf's Open Championship is finally back at Royal Portrush.

The last time it was in Northern Ireland, England's Max Faulkner walked away victorious.

But the 1951 championship was a very different, rather modest affair, compared with the sporting colossus the tournament has become.

By the time the drama ends on Sunday the Dunluce links will have been trodden on by about 215,000 spectators from around the world.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The grandstand at the 18th green will be the place to be on Sunday evening

If the walking gets too much there are 14 grandstands dotted around the course, the biggest of which horseshoes around the final green and can seat 4,000 people.

Of course, coping with all those thirsty, hungry, sunburnt hordes takes a huge effort.

On top of the 6,000 staff working here, there are 12,000 volunteer marshals making sure everyone knows where they are going and, more importantly, where they definitely can't.

The logistics behind erecting 31,000 sq m of tentage and installing 26 miles (42km) of fibre-optic cable doesn't bear thinking about, never mind a course redesign that necessitated the building of two new holes, a tunnel and the laying of two miles (3.2km) of tarmac road.

Image caption Golf enthusiasts from across Northern Ireland are volunteering at the Open

On a glorious sunny Sunday it looks like nothing Northern Ireland has ever seen and in truth that's exactly what it is.

Money may be a vulgar subject but this Open is expected to bring an economic benefit of about £80m to Northern Ireland but its legacy will be measured in much more than pounds and pence.

Game of cones

On a gloriously sunny start to the week few things would go down better than an ice cream and one Portrush store is not pulling any punches.

The Morellis have been selling ice cream in this part of the world since 1911 and given that the defending Open champion is also Italian, why not pay a unique tribute and try to lure him in?

Image caption A Portrush ice cream shop has gone all out to draw the reigning Open champion in

Francesco Molinari is known as much for his monotone delivery as for his scintillating iron play and he's surely never looked as colourful as in his impressive rendering in hundreds and thousands.

Brooks Koepka's caddy - Portrush man Ricky Elliott - has already been in for an ice cream, and the female staff were melted by the charm and matinee idol looks of Australian star Adam Scott.

"Hottie Scottie", as they dubbed him, is well and good but it's 2018 winner Francesco they're now holding out for... and another sprinkling of stardust.

Tears before tee time

As the old saying goes, you can't please all of the people all of the time and when you're Tiger Woods there are just too many fans to keep everyone happy.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Fans watched as 15-time major winner Tiger Woods play a practice round

With his game looking less than stellar after a few weeks of inaction, a businesslike Tiger didn't hang about too long after his practice round.

In fairness he did his fair share of signing flags and caps but two young autograph hunters who failed to make it to the front of the queue were left crying in his magisterial wake.

With the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tommy Fleetwood on the property their tears soon dried and both left determined to add Tiger to their flags before the week is out.

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