Tiger no-show won’t be a blow for Open

The US may be lamenting Tiger Woods’ absence, but British Open organisers are confident the Royal Liverpool major in July will be as big as ever.

Ticket sales are reported to be moving along nicely and even if Woods doesn’t play then crowds are still expected to cram Hoylake to watch Phil Mickelson defend his title.

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Woods’ comeback from back surgery is coming along slowly and it looks the toss of a coin whether or not the world number one will be ready to pursue his fourth Open championship title at the course where he won in 2006.

Organisers of the Open, the Royal and Ancient, report buoyant ticket sales and suggest they will hit the 200,000 mark by the time the world’s best players tee off on July 17 – whether Woods is in the field or not.

The R&A’s director of communications Malcolm Booth said: “We’ve had a couple of Opens without Tiger, at Birkdale in 2008 and Royal St George’s in 2011.

“It’s hard to directly attribute TV or spectator numbers to one player but there’s no doubt Tiger’s impact on the game is huge.”

“He is still a massive drawcard.”

“Still the Open has always drawn a good crowd and great TV numbers and I’m sure it will be the same again this year.”

“Corporate hospitality has gone very well this year.”

“We’re already sold out for the Thursday and Friday so we are happy with the growth we are seeing.”

Woods’ victory at Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake, in 2006 attracted 230,000 spectators – and that figure remains the joint highest along with the 2000 championship at St Andrews, also won by Tiger.

Even attracting 200,000 spectators would be more than 50,000 up on last year’s crowd at Muirfield, which ignited questions over the ticket costs and accusations fans were being priced out of attending the event.

Meanwhile, changes to the layout at Hoylake have been announced, including a tightening of the first hole which officials claim will make it the toughest opening on the Open rota.