Lytham is hit with golf fans

South Africa's Ernie Els celebrates his birdie on the 18th

South Africa's Ernie Els celebrates his birdie on the 18th

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THE staging of The Open was a triumph not just for winner Ernie Els but for years of planning and preparation.

Fylde Council chief executive Allan Oldfield was delighted by the success of Royal Lytham and St Annes’ 11th hosting of the world’s top golf tournament.

The event was worth an estimated £90m to the county in its first appearance on the coast since 2001 and Mr Oldfield says all the signs are that it will leave a lasting legacy for years to come.

He added: “It was a great event and we are delighted with how smoothly it all went.

“Feedback from all parties has been excellent.

“The main reaction we have been getting back is how well the traffic kept moving and how good Lytham and St Annes looked.

“Along with all the thousands of visitors, the worldwide TV spotlight has been excellent for us and we are confident many people who have come for the golf and seen us on TV will have been attracted to see more of our area.”

Mr Oldfield paid tribute to the many organisations which contributed to a tournament which will go down in golf annals as a classic following Els’ dramatic late win.

He added: “We had a number of challenges because of the weather but all the organisations worked together so well and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”

CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR DEDICATED OPEN MINISITE FOR FINAL SCOREBOARD, GALLERIES AND REACTION.

The tournament attracted a bumper crowd of 181,300, topping the 178,000 figure from when it was last held on the Fylde coast in 2001 and only bettered at Royal Lytham by the 191,334 who turned out to see Seve Ballesteros triumph in 1988.

Visitors flocked to the course from all over the world and Jamie Schnur, who had travelled from Kalamazoo in Michigan, USA to watch his first Open, said: “We’ve had a great time.

“The facilities here are wonderful and we’ve been really impressed with everything about the course and the lovely area.”

Chris and Gill Griffiths had travelled from Chester to watch the final three days’ play and said: “It’s our first visit to the Open here and we have had a great time.

“The atmosphere has been excellent.”

Champion Els praised the “wonderful” course in his acceptance speech, while Jim McArthur, chairman of tournament organiser the Royal & Ancient committee, paid tribute to head greenkeeper Paul Smith and his team for a “magnificent job”.