Friday 19 December 2014

Stars of the green, screen and all in between at Irish Open's pro-am day

Published 27/06/2013 | 05:00

MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - JUNE 26:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (right) puts his number into the phone of Andriy Shevchenko, former top footballer, following the pro-am event prior to the start of the Irish Open at Carton House Golf Club on June 26, 2013 in Maynooth, Ireland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy and Andriy Shevchenko exchange numbers
Rory McIlroy (left) congratulates ex-footballer Andriy Shevchenko at the Irish Open 2013 Pro Am.
Darren Clarke signs an autograph for a young fan
Jockey Johnny Murtagh watches his putt on the 5th green
Former AC Milan and Chelsea player Andriy Shevchenko takes his second shot from the rough at the 2nd hole, during the Irish Open Golf Championship 2013 Pro Am
Rory McIlroy with Dermot Desmond during the Irish Open Golf Championship 2013 Pro Am
Former Westlife singer Brian McFadden on the 8th fairway during the Irish Open Golf Championship 2013 Pro Am.
Former Munster and Ireland rugby player Mick O'Driscoll in action at Carton House
Rory McIlroy, with former AC Milan and Chelsea player Andriy Shevchenko during the Irish Open Golf Championship 2013 Pro Am
Rory McIlroy and Andriy Shevchenko sign autographs on their way to the 3rd tee during the Irish Open Golf Championship 2013 Pro Am

IT HAS taken more than six months and countless man hours, but the Montgomerie Course at Carton House in Co Kildare is ready for the first stage of the Irish Open.

But yesterday was all about fans having fun as they followed around a host of celebrities and famous golfers.

Professional golfers practised their swings with amateurs as part of the Open's Pro-Am day.

Rory McIlroy led his team, including former Chelsea, AC Milan and FIFA world footballer of the year Andriy Shevchenko, into second place, one stroke behind Padraig Harrington's winning side.

Failte Ireland chairman Redmond O'Donoghue was at Harrington's side with Arthur Spring and Tim Fenn as they racked up a medal score of 27-under.

Former Irish Open champion Shane Lowry, and major winners Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell had some fun by practicing their chipping blindfolded.

Among the amateurs were financier Dermot Desmond, jockey Johnny Murtagh, singer Brian McFadden and actor Keith Duffy.

"It has been a Trojan effort from the staff. They've been working from 4am and are really passionate about what they do," said Conor Mallaghan, whose family own the hotel.

"Some of the players have said that the greens are the best they've played on all year."

The 165-bed hotel has been booked up by 100 golfing pros and their families.

A small village has been set up, complete with stalls for food, clothing companies, and companies offering golfing holidays.

Yesterday's pre-tournament star was McIlroy. He was relaxed and in good humour, despite being struck by hay fever, as he talked to the media following a morning on the course.

"You get treated very well. I walked into my hotel room and it was amazing," the 24-year-old said.

Irish Independent

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