Sunday 18 August 2019

Davy Fitz eclipses boyband sparkle as his golf swing woos celebrity hunters

Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald during the Pro-Am. Photos: Sportsfile
Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald during the Pro-Am. Photos: Sportsfile
Big shots: Brian McFadden watches as Keith Duffy putts during the Pro-Am round ahead of the Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club. photos: sportsfile
On course: One Direction heart-throb Niall Horan takes part in the Pro-Am. photo: sportsfile

Kirsty Blake Knox in Lahinch

Davy Fitzgerald managed to eclipse any boyband sparkle at Lahinch yesterday.

The Wexford manager and a motley crew of celebrities including Niall Horan, Enda Kenny, Luke Fitzgerald, AP McCoy, Keith Duffy and Ruby Walsh made their way to Co Clare for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am.

It is the first time the competition has taken place here in Lahinch Golf Club's 127-year history, and is the largest sporting event to ever take place in Co Clare.

Fitzgerald, who led Wexford to victory last Sunday, teamed up with Boyzlife duo Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden.

Fans edged towards him with hurls and pieces of paper outstretched.

While Fitzgerald was enjoying his team mates' company he said it couldn't compare to the highs of last weekend.

"You won't beat last Sunday. It's hard to describe the feelings coming home... It was immense.

"I haven't thought about the semi-final yet. In another few days we will think about going forward," he said.

While Fitzgerald's swing impressed the crowd, some of his fellow golfers seemed a little off the pace.

McFadden hit a ball into a rough brush of grass and after two attempts to shift the ball, picked it up and chucked it at the green. Sadly he misfired and it rolled rather tragically into a sand bunker.

"I can't even throw it on the green," McFadden said.

It was the first day of the festival with around 100,000 golf fans expected to attend in the coming days.

Roughly €10m has been invested in the seaside resort ahead of the Irish Open.

Houses and hotels were covered in bunting and a mannequin dressed as a sheikh was propped up next to a golf buggy. And they couldn't have asked for a better day to kick things off. "It's not just hot, this is holiday hot," Susie Nix, from Dublin, said.

Spectators fanned their faces with programmes, and pressed cans of club orange against the back of their necks to cool down.

"We couldn't ask for a better day," Pádraig Harrington said. "Although a bit more wind would be nice."

A One Direction pilgrim trail snaked around the doldrums as Niall Horan and 'Cold Feet' actor Jimmy Nesbitt made their way around the 18-hole course. "Is he short?" one woman asked. "I want to know if he's short."

The event felt a bit like a giant Easter egg hunt as fans flitted around trying to find where their favourite golfers and celebrities were teeing off.

"I want to see Joe Canning," said Cillian O'Brien (9), a member of the Tralee Golf Club Juniors.

"Is that the man from 'Cold Feet'?" one man asked, straining to see Nesbitt in a pair of check trousers.

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny had recruited his son Ferdia as caddy, while Paul O'Connell had teamed up with English golfer Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, and Keith Wood.

Irish Independent

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