Golf fans in Londonderry need to act quickly if they are to make the most of nest month’s Irish Open at Royal County Down.
Tickets for the final day’s play on Sunday May 31 are all but gone and the event is expected to be a sell-out as it was at Royal Portrush three years ago.
The Newcastle tournament won’t break the attendance record set at Portrush as spectators are limited to 20,000 each day.
The European Tour’s tournament director Antonia Beggs explained that it was a necessary step.
“We have taken expert advice on it and 20,000 is the optimum number of people that we can accommodate on any given day,” she said.
“Given the nature of the course and the fact that we want the people who turn up to be able to enjoy the golf we need to have that limit.”
If anything, next month’s tournament is attracting even more attention that Royal Portrush did in 2012.
The American-based Golf Channel is sending over its own camera crew. Normally they are happy to take the European Tour’s own pictures.
The Royal County Down course is one of the most spectacular links in the world.
As tournament host Rory McIlroy has helped to put together the most impressive Irish Open field in decades.
Last week the Tour announced that double major winner Martin Kaymer, former world number one Luke Donald and rising American star Patrick Reed would all be playing.
They join a field which already boasted Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Jose Maria Olazabal, Rickie fowler and Sergio Garcia who will be making a rare appearance on the European Tour.
Together with the three Ulster major winners McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, the field will boast 18 majors.
Outside of the flagship PGA at Wentworth, that kind of quality in depth is unheard of on the European Tour these days with the top men opting to play almost exclusively in America.
And the European Tour has dropped heavy hints that another couple of star names will be announced next month.
Dustin Johnson, who like Fowler came up against McIlroy in the 2007 Walker Cup at RCD, is a prime candidate and Ian Poulter’s name has also been mentioned.
The Tour says that the inclusion of the big name players will not impact on sponsors’ invitations so there will be places for the top Northern Ireland amateurs and perhaps Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin who lost his Tour card at the end of last season.
But it looks unlikely if local man Michael McGeady will be given a place.
The places available to the Irish PGA have been cut by two from last year and the former PGA champion looks likely to miss out.