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Page last updated at 08:04 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 09:04 UK

Turnberry to set longer Open test

Padraig Harrington
Harrington's driving will need to be on song this year to retain the Claret Jug

Padraig Harrington will aim for a hat-trick of Open titles at a Turnberry course that is 247 yards longer than when it last staged the tournament.

The Scottish course, which last held the Open in 1994, will measure 7,204 yards for the 16-19 July event.

The new layout features six new tees, including a 200-yard drive over the bay near the famous Lighthouse at the 10th.

The longest course in Open history was Carnoustie, which measured 7,421 yards when Harrington won in 2007.

Since Zimbabwean Nick Price triumphed at Turnberry 15 years ago, the straight 410-yard 16th has changed to a 455-yard dogleg right, while the par-five 17th has been stretched from 498 to 559 yards with three new bunkers also added.

606: DEBATE

The 17th is the hole that Price eagled with a 50-foot putt as he saw off Sweden's Jesper Parnevik.

Turnberry first staged the Open in 1977 when Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke in what was dubbed the "Duel in the Sun". Although Nicklaus finished 65-66, Watson shot 65-65 with third-place Hubert Green 10 shots back.

Australian Greg Norman claimed his first major when Turnberry held the second of its three Opens in 1986.

Harrington, who defended his title with a four-shot victory over Ian Poulter at Royal Birkdale last year, will be playing his first tournament at the Ayrshire venue. The Dubliner is bidding to become the first player to win the Open three years in a row since Australian Peter Thomson in 1956.

Tiger Woods will also be making his first visit, but Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Geoff Ogilvy all competed in the 1996 British Amateur.

Meanwhile, with the world gripped by economic gloom, organisers of the Open are offering help to golf fans to get to Turnberry.

We are encouraging clubs to bring members and the R&A will pay £250 towards the cost of a coach

R&A's director of championships David Hill

"Corporate hospitality is 15-20% down in line with all UK sporting events - everybody has suffered from that a little bit and it reflects the world we are in," said director of championships David Hill.

"We are encouraging clubs to bring members and the R&A will pay £250 towards the cost of a coach.

"In this period of recession we're trying to reach out to clubs and we will be contacting them with details. We're asking them to bring 30 people.

"We're also conscious that with the success of golf in Ireland we're anticipating a lot of people coming over and there will be a coach service from the ferry terminals.

"But we're not hugely concerned. We are pretty upbeat and we are confident that there is huge interest and that we should get to the same figures we had when the Open was last here in 1994."

While Opens at St Andrews always prove the most popular and attract in excess of 200,000 people, Turnberry's attendance 15 years ago was 115,000.

A daily ticket will cost £55 and Hill added: "When you compare that to other sporting events I believe it's fantastic value."

Prize money - Harrington scooped £750,000 last year- has still to be announced for July's event, but the Masters earlier this month showed no increase on last year.

"In recent years we have been the most lucrative major championship in dollar terms but with the shift in the exchange rate that may be difficult to sustain," said Hill.



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see also
Brilliant Harrington retains Open
20 Jul 08 |  Golf
Open day four as it happened
20 Jul 08 |  Golf
Harrington wins Open in play-off
22 Jul 07 |  Golf
Cabrera wins Masters in play-off
12 Apr 09 |  Golf


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