OPEN GOLF: Towns “buzzing” as stars arrive

Rory McIlroy during the second practice day for the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club
Rory McIlroy during the second practice day for the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club

EXCITEMENT is building ahead of the Open Golf’s big tee-off.

The eyes of the sporting world are firmly fixed on the Fylde coast as Lytham and St Annes prepares for a bumper week of sporting action.

Final preparations have been made, the course is ready and some of the world’s best golfers have already been practising on the greens before the competition starts proper at Royal Lytham and St Annes on July 19.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is aiming to return to the top of the world rankings by winning The Open, the most prestigious golf competition in the world.

He took to the course to practice on Thursday before spending the night at The Grand Hotel, St Annes.

Richard Webb, owner of the South Promenade hotel which is also housing the organising committee, said: “It’s very exciting and it would be nice if he won it.

“He is a really good lad and said he enjoyed playing and getting some practice in.

“From my point of view as a hotelier, the event is a great thing and it’s building all the time and we are looking forward to it being a really great tournament.”

Mr Webb said the Fylde coast is bursting with excitement ahead of the Open, which will welcome up to 200,000 visitors throughout the competition.

He added: “There’s a buzz around the town.

“The Open has boosted everyone and they are all putting that little bit extra in to make it look good.

“It’s a shame we don’t get something like this every year.”

McIlroy tackled the course with his friend and fellow golfer Graeme McDowell, who also has aspirations of winning the top prize in front of the British crowd.

Robert Silverwood, chairman of Lytham Chamber of Trade, said: “In the evenings the hotels and the restaurants are going to be doing very well and people will enjoy themselves.

“In the town we have all benefited from the improvements which have been made to make the towns look spick and span.

“It’s a massive roadshow and it can be anywhere in the world and it will create an impact.

“It’s a huge machine and worth a lot of money to the sport.”

A spokesman for Fylde Council says everyone will be catered for throughout the tournament when events are run during the day and evenings.

He said: “Everyone in Fylde is looking forward to the golf.

“The hotels are full and we have noticed the streets are already filling up with visitors.

“Viewers from across Britain and the world will see the Fylde and we are confident it will be a successful and prosperous week of golf.

“We hope the weather will improve, but we have plans for both indoor and outdoor events and don’t think the weather will stop people enjoying themselves.”