The town of Lahinch is readying itself for mini-invasion this week as golf fans, media and players all converge on the county Clare seaside resort when the European Golf tour comes to town. The links course plays host to this years Dubai Irish Open which tees-off on Thursday morning.
The historic Old Course, designed by Old Tom Morris in 1894, is set for one of it’s biggest ever occasions as the international media spotlight returns to a golf club in the county for the second time this summer. A certain American tourist who spent a few days at another course down the road in Doonbeg at the start of June stole some of the limelight from the build-up to this event. But now all eyes in Irish and European golf will be firmly fixed on Lahinch this weekend.
Tournament host, and Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley is preparing to roll out the red carpet for the players who are set to visit Co. Clare this week. He’s obviously taking his role very seriously as he has opted not to play in this weekends Tournament himself in order to focus on his hosting role. Speaking about his roles and responsibilities today, McGinley said “there’s a lot of them. Obviously, the field is one of them. The course setup is another one. The condition of the course is another one. Embracement of the local community is another one. Foundation and how I’ll hopefully raise funds for my foundation. Another one. All those things have like a separate agenda going on with each one with the idea that we click the dominos and they all hopefully turn into a big success.”
In relation to the set up of the course for this weeks event Paul was happy to admit he took on board tips and advice from others, “I’m a great believer in preparation and with The Open Championship in Northern Ireland, in Portrush in a couple of weeks time, straightaway I always wanted to have a similar setup here” he added “I got in touch with the R&A and Grant, Grant Moir, who does the setup for them and he’s been great”.
The quality of the field has been a major talking point in the build-up to this year’s event and the absence of Rory McIlroy, in particular, has been generated plenty of column inches. However McGinley was realistic about the challenges of gathering an international field for an event two-weeks out from the Open Championship in Portrush. “the American guys don’t want to be on the road for three weeks, most of them. And that’s one of the reasons why we don’t have an even better field”. Mc Ginley went on to say that in terms of the world ranking points of the top players in there field it compared favourably with the PGA tour event in the USA this weekend.
It’s clear that McGinley and his team have put a huge effort into their preparations for the event and they have put all their energies into ensuring a great weekends golf lies in store. Ticket sales have been going well in the build-up to the event and the Saturday and Sunday tickets are almost sold out. The one major factor that they have no control over – the elements – now looks like it’s set to favour them also as clear skies and moderate winds are forecast for the next few days.