Sport Golf

Friday 13 December 2019

Clooney has Hoylake in a tizzy waiting for 'Ship' pint sequel

Locals eagerly await return of Hollywood heart-throb to the scene of his toast to Tiger's victory in 2006

Jim White

As yet, there has been no sign of George Clooney in the Ship Inn in Hoylake. Which is something of a disappointment for Pauline Triggs, the landlady's mother.

"I've got a spray tan and had me nails done special," she said. "If you see him, tell him how good I am at pulling." She was talking pints, obviously.

Hoylake is in a state of high excitement. It is not so much the fact that this handsome beachside town in the Wirral is hosting the Open, it is more who might be turning up to watch. The last time Britain's leading golf tournament was staged here, Hollywood's most celebrated heart throb sent the pulses of local ladies of a certain age racing when he was seen out and about in town, after a day spent observing on the links. Clooney went for a pint in the Ship, an event which landlord Owen Hird has immortalised in a miniature golf leaderboard behind the bar.

"You can put your name up there with him if you like," said Hird as a couple of men with golf bags arrived for a refresher. "Cost you a donation to the RNLI."

Hird was not running the pub in 2006 when Tiger Woods won the Open with one of the most devastating rounds recorded and Clooney toasted his fellow American's success in the Ship. But ever since he took over the place in March this year, he has been preparing for the moment should the actor revisit the scene of his bevvy. The first thing he'll do is encourage Clooney to try the putting green he has set up in the back garden of the pub.

"It's for the Hoylake RNLI too," he said. "We're trying to raise some money to keep them afloat, if you like."

All around Hoylake they have been building up for the start for months. One particularly swanky house has big signs outside to indicate it has been let to International Sports Management, the agency run by Chubby Chandler, just in case anyone was wondering where Darren Clarke is staying.

"We've been gearing up for this for a long time," explained Matt Knight, the manager of the Holiday Inn hotel. "We're busier than ever but since most staying here work for the organisers, they leave at five to set up the course, then they come back at eight in the evening too exhausted to do anything but go straight to bed. It's like a ghost hotel in here during the day."

However, the hotel restaurant – a Marco Pierre White outlet – is fully booked for the duration of the tournament, largely by the media. As yet there has been no booking in the name of Clooney. "No sign of him here. Though Justin Rose's caddie rang up to book a table for him last night," said Knight. "We were all very excited. But it was a no show."

And so everyone remains on alert, full of nervous expectation, waiting for the moment the most renowned head of silver hair in show business swishes into Hoylake. That is if it ever does.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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