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Golf frenzy will hit an all-time high when The 148th Open Championship will make its strong presence felt this Thursday. Here we look at the elements that will make up the Open Championship Challenge at Royal Portrush.
Now, this will be a sight to behold. Around 215,000 will attend The Open, with the daily capacity increased from 40,000 to 43,750 due to the huge demand.
The 2012 Irish Open set a European Tour record when 126,505 fans packed Royal Portrush in some horrific weather. The Open will be 40pc bigger and louder than that.
There is a lot of pressure on McIlroy to win another major who owns four major championship titles. Adding to that pressure is the fact this week is essentially a home game for him. McIlroy grew up about a 45-minute drive away from Portrush, in Holywood. So outside expectations will be at an all-time high for him.
Bar the 2010 JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor, the 15-time Major winner hasn't played a competitive round here since he finished ninth in the WGC American Express Championship at Mount Juliet in 2004.
The Masters champion has been getting up at 1 am in Florida to acclimatise to the time change his body will undergo for The Open, but having played just 10 tournament rounds since his win at Augusta National, it remains to be seen if he will be sharp enough to contend for a fourth Claret Jug on a course that should still suit his game given the premium Royal Portrush will place on mid-iron play and strategy.
(With inputs from The Independent)