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Hoylake gripped by Open fever
HOYLAKE has been gripped by Open fever and everyone has had their part to play in creating the buzz of excitement.
The tournament began today. On the final day of practice, the Globe went into the town and spoke to business owners and volunteers ready for the thousands of visitors set to descend on the town over the four days of the Championship.
Among them is Stephanie Hodson who, together with sister Charlotte, set up the Yog Bar in Market Street last year.
She told the Globe: “We've had a lot more customers this week, more than we thought we would. There is such a buzz around; it’s such a good community spirit.
“There have been rumours that One Direction’s Harry Stiles will be coming down, so lots of young customers have come in. I know his mum.
“We’ve had a lot of Americans in and I’ve also made friends with golfer Jordan Speith and his team, who have come into the bar too. A lot of the Open bandstand guys have come in to try our frozen yoghurt too.
“The Open has definitely boosted our popularity before it’s actually started. When we get busy, we get busy.”
On hand to help the visitors around the town during the tournament is an army of 60 volunteer ambassadors, who are not just locals.
Among them is Darren Green, from Devon. He told the Globe: “My mum lives in Wirral and told me the event was taking place. So, I applied for a position as ambassador and got a place.
“I’m really looking forward to taking part. The atmosphere has been good so far. It’s a great event to be involved in.”
Fellow ambassador Phil Hales, born in Birkenhead and now living in Irby, said: “It’s going to be a chance to welcome visitors and share my local knowledge on Wirral with them.
“If people see how keen we are to help, I’m sure it’s help that will be appreciated. It's been a good experience so far and I’m looking forward to the tournament.
“Looking at the weather forecast for the next few days, though, the players could face testing times. When The Open was last held here, it was really hot, but it could be an interesting few days ahead. The players need to be tested.”
Tiger Woods lifted the Claret Jug in 2006 and teed off this morning. But walking along Market Street you get an early glimpse of the star - well, sort of.
A dummy replica, sitting on a chair outside Le Barber, has proved popular with tourists, adding to the atmosphere.
Le Barber’s co-owner Bob Gilfoyle told the Globe: “The red chair has been outside, unoccupied for a while and a lot of people have said we should put a Tiger dummy on it. It’s gone down really well.
“We’ve had people coming off the course for a haircut and a lot of regulars too. There’s been a really nice atmosphere.”
Bob, who co-owns the business with wife Sharon, continued: “It’s nice to get involved by doing something fun like this. If we’d have known the Tiger dummy was going to be so popular we would have used a mannequin.”
The excitement has been building in the town day by day, evident by the thousands of visitors getting off the trains at Hoylake station and making their way to the Royal Liverpool course.
Inspector Ken McVey, from British Transport Police said: “The 2006 tournament was a great success and the atmosphere has been building for the last few days now.
“All trains coming into and leaving Hoylake will be six cars long, carrying 750 passengers, so it’s a huge challenge, but an exciting prospect.”