Shane Lowry will finally get to defend The Open when the prestigious tournament begins on 15 July and there will be up to 32,000 spectators each competition day at this year's championship.

The Offaly native secured his maiden major at Royal Portrush in 2019 but was unable to defend his title in 2020 due to The Open being cancelled as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

But this year's event will begin at Royal St George's in Kent next month with Lowry defending the famous Claret Jug as champion golfer of the year for 2019.

There had been uncertainty over the capacity for the event after the UK Government announced earlier this month that existing Covid-19 restrictions would remain in place until 19 July.

It has now been confirmed the Open will be included in the UK Government’s 'Events Research Programme’, which will enable a number of events to take place with higher capacities than present guidance permits.

The Wimbledon championships and matches in the latter stages of Euro 2020 had already been included in the programme.

Darren Clarke won the Claret Jug the last time The Open was hosted at the Kent course in 2011

A statement from the Open organisers the R&A read: "We can now confirm that we will be able to welcome up to 32,000 fans on each championship day of the 149th Open at Royal St George’s and that this will include those existing ticketholders and hospitality guests who have already purchased tickets."

The Open week will begin on 11 July with the tournament itself starting on 15 July.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, whose organisation has been in discussions with the Government, said: "We are pleased to now be able to proceed with our plans for having a significant attendance at this year’s Championship.

"These fans will play a huge role in creating a very special atmosphere as the world’s best players compete for the Claret Jug and we look forward to welcoming them to Royal St George’s."

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: "We have always said we will do everything possible to return fans to our iconic cultural and sporting events as soon, and as safely, as possible — and thanks to the phenomenal success of our vaccine rollout and uptake of the NHS app we’re able to take another step forward through our flagship Events Research Programme."