Bill Murray heads star Pro-Am line-up

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A host of stars from Hollywood screen, entertainment, and sport are on course to take part in the Irish Open Pro-Am at Royal Portrush Golf Club next Wednesday.

Principle sponsor of the Irish Open, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), has revealed that Moonrise Kingdom, Lost in Translation and Ghostbusters! star Bill Murray will be joined by his brother Joel, star of the newly released God Bless America, and well-known for his roles in The Artist and hit TV series Mad Men.

Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn, whose credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Mission, Legends of the Fall and Michael Collins, has also accepted an invitation to play.

Recording artist and Australian X Factor judge Ronan Keating and Northern Irish football legends Martin O’Neill and Pat Jennings are also expected to compete alongside rugby stars Andrew Trimble from Coleraine and David Humphreys, while former jockey and National Hunt trainer Tom Taaffe is another well-known name chomping at the bit to play the famous Portrush course.

NITB Chief Executive Alan Clarke is looking forward to showing these high profile visitors the many sights Northern Ireland has to offer during their visit to what promises to be one of the largest events on the 2012 tourism calendar.

“The Irish Open is a fantastic opportunity for those involved in local tourism and sport to showcase our fantastic facilities here in Northern Ireland and the quality of the event is reflected in the attendance of such high profile guests from sport and screen.

“Their attendance will further raise the profile of Northern Ireland golf as an exciting and fast developing destination. We have a full programme of activity planned for these guests to make sure that their trip is a memorable one and many will be staying on to enjoy the tournament, see other parts of Northern Ireland and sample a wide variety of other golf courses.

“This is one of the most eagerly anticipated Irish Open tournaments in the history of this prestigious event as the competition makes its long awaited return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 60 years.

“With our three home grown major golf champions, a world class course and a fantastic line-up competing for the prize, it’s really no surprise that this event has captured the imagination of celebrities and public alike,” he added.

With the Irish Open now only two weeks away, the European Tour is expecting the event to be a sell-out with a crowd of 100,000 expected over the four days from Thursday June 28 to Sunday July 1.

NITB’s Alan Clarke said that it’s still not too late though to catch Graeme McDowell and company in action.

“Tickets have been selling like hot cakes since going on sale,” said Alan, “but although Saturday and Sunday are pretty much sold out, there is still some availability for Thursday and Friday’s play with a variety of accommodation and package options still up for grabs. I would urge however that people book in advance and don’t risk turning up on the day and expecting to get in”.

Advance day tickets for the Irish Open are available for £30, a saving of £5 on the gate price, with four day season tickets priced at £70, a saving of £10. Advance concession day and season tickets are priced at £20 and £50 respectively. Hospitality packages are sold out for the first two days, but are still available on Saturday and Sunday.