Open Championship: Hoylake play down possible Tiger Woods absence
Last Updated: 04/07/14 11:25am
Open Championship officials are confident that this summer's tournament will be a resounding success even if Tiger Woods is absent.
The world No 1 missed the Masters for the first time in his career after being forced to undergo surgery on a troublesome back problem.
Woods has yet to confirm when he will be ready to return to competitive action, and he remains a doubt for the US Open at Pinehurst in June.
His close friend Notah Begay stated last week that Woods needs to give his back "a minimum of 90 days" of rest to avoid the risk of re-injuring it.
Woods collected his 11th major title the last time the Open was staged at Hoylake in 2006, clinching a two-shot victory over Chris DiMarco just a month after missing the cut at the US Open following the death of his father Earl.
But it remains to be seen if Woods will tee it up at Royal Liverpool this July, although Malcolm Booth, the R&A's director of communications, insisted his possible absence will not affect attendances.
Booth said: "There's no doubt that Tiger Woods' impact on the game of golf is huge and he is still a massive draw, but we've had Opens without him before in 2008 and 2011.
"The Open has always drawn a great crowd and we are sure we will again this year.
"We saw huge novelty and excitement in 2006 when we returned for the first time since 1967 and so I think that created very, very high crowds. We don't anticipate the same 230,000 this year, but we expect around 200,000."
There will be seating for 20,000 spectators on the course with a "horseshoe" structure of grandstands surrounding the 18th green.
Rhodri Price, the R&A's director of operations, said: "That's something we can't do at any other venue and we think it's a great chance to wrap the 18th and create a great atmosphere."
Large LED screens will be placed on each hole apart from the 18th, which will retain the iconic yellow scoreboard, with a Wi-Fi mesh again surrounding the course to allow spectators to follow the action on mobile devices.
A six-figure sum has been spent on the technology required and Booth added: "We think this is the most innovative technology at any golf championship in the world.
"We intend to lead the way on this moving forward. I used it at Muirfield last year and it worked well and we think in the next three to five years the technology is going to become extremely robust.
"The big challenge at a golf tournament is that you are only able to be at one hole at a time and we hope this allows spectators to keep up to date with what is happening around the course. We think the benefit is significant."
Changes to the course since 2006 have been minimal, with just 54 yards added to take the overall yardage to 7,312.
The only signifcant change is at the par-four seventh, which has been increased by 27 yards to 480.