Excitement to the fore as Portrush tees-up for The Open

Portrush is getting ready for The Open.PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA

PORTRUSH is tee-ing up for the The Open golf championship this summer and the huge international sporting event will be a real “game-changer” for the whole north coast area, a councillor says.

Norman Hillis, himself a golfer, says fans will marvel at the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at Royal Portrush in July.

However, Alderman Hillis says that bringing an economic benefit to the area over the longer term will also be to the fore.

Thousands of golf fans will invade the north coast for the 148th Open being held from July 14-21.

Alderman Hillis said: “I’m a keen golfer and I’m going to go every day to see Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and all the stars.

“It’s going to be the biggest outdoor sporting event ever held in Ireland.

“There is going to be a major influx of people into the town,” he said.

Alderman Hillis said millions of pounds have already been spent in Portrush in preparation for the worldwide spotlight falling on the town.

New pavements have been put in; the railway station has been revamped and the the whole town has been spruced up.

“This is a real game-changer,” said the councillor.

“This isn’t just a Portrush event its going to be for the whole of Northern Ireland. There is going to be a great shot in the arm for tourism – it is a great p.r. thing,” he added.

Alderman Hillis, who is also a businessman in Portrush, said local shops and the hotel and hospitality industry stand to get a huge boost.

And he said images showing the whole Causeway Coast area will go out alongside the golf coverage around the globe to tens of millions of people meaning “long term benefits” for the area.

Alderman Hillis anticipates that on the back of the TV pictures that many golfers will want to come to Portrush to play the historic course.

“I can’t wait for it all to begin,” he said.

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