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SBD Global/July 23, 2013/Events and Attractions

Open Championship Organizers Blame Heat For Low Attendance At Muirfield

Phil Mickelson poses after winning the Open Championship Sunday.
The organizers of the Open Championship "have blamed hot weather rather than high ticket prices for a drop of almost 20,000 spectators from the last time the event was staged at Muirfield," according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. In '02, a total of 160,595 attended the third major of the year in East Lothian. Last week, that figure fell to 142,036 with a standard walk-up price of £75 ($115) generally recognized as off-putting. Before the Open started, R&A Championship Committee Chair Jim McArthur said, "We are expecting a total crowd of 160,000, and hoping for 170,000 over the week." An Open spokesperson said, "Advance ticket sales were very strong, and we believe the extremely warm weather put off some of our pay-at-the-gate customers. That is perhaps why, unusually, we had a higher attendance on Sunday in cooler weather than we did on Friday, which is normally the busiest day" (GUARDIAN, 7/22). The high temperature at Muirfield was 72F on Friday and 66F on Saturday and Sunday, according to The Weather Channel (SBD Global).

SETTING THE SCENE: In Edinburgh, Alan Pattullo reported in the moment of Phil Mickelson’s triumph, "it felt as if the attendant controversies had briefly melted away." The Muirfield ban on female membership issue "will of course rear its head again, but it did not seem relevant" Sunday, as Amy, Mickelson’s wife, skipped across the 18th green in a bid to obtain a good vantage point for the presentation. There "was no grumbling from the clubhouse." Only applause. It is hard to explain why attendance numbers "are down if those present seem intent on showering praise on the Open, but it is there in black and white." Robert Fisher had come all the way from Mickelson’s hometown of San Diego, and hailed this year’s Open as a "fantastic tournament." The lower number of spectators "was a positive, as far as they were concerned." He said, "It wasn’t packed, compared to the U.S. Open for example. I prefer less people, but you still drink beer and cheer and have a good time" (SCOTSMAN, 7/22).

 FALLING NUMBERS
  2002 Open at Muirfield
2013 Open at Muirfield
Practice Days
30,862 31,320
Thursday
30,620 23,393
Friday
34,479 29,144
Saturday
33,212 28,932
Sunday
31,422
29,247
Total
160,595
142,036
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