IT was a Groundhog Day moment, no doubt.
Hollywood legend Bill Murray raised his famous eyebrows and an ironic smirk spread across his face when he was introduced to new Coleraine mayor Sam Cole at last week’s Pro Am tournament at Royal Portrush.
For the title ‘Mayor Cole’ was just a tad familiar to the comedy actor who played a character of that very name in the 2008 science fiction fantasy, City of Ember.
In true Murray fashion, the 61-year-old star of Caddyshack and Ghostbusters, happily donned the Coleraine mayoral chain with his trademark stoical expression.
Murray was in town with his brother Joel - one of the stars of the hit US drama, Mad Men - to play in the Pro Am the traditional curtain-raiser for the Irish Open on Wednesday.
He and Joel - attired in loud green trousers adorned with dozens of little shamrocks - made up an all brothers team which featured Portrush’s former US Open champion (and recent runner-up) Graeme McDowell and his brother, Gary.
“You should give John Daly back his trousers,” shouted one wag from the gallery.
Brother Bill retorted: “He’s just had some lessons, folks. Please forgive him.”
When it was his turn to hit his tee shot, G-Mac assured him: “You could land a jumbo jet on that fairway.”
It didn’t put the actor off, who got his revenge on the 15th green. As McDowell steadied himself for a six-foot putt, Murray said: “You know if you putt this, the crowd is going to go wild.”
G-Mac duly missed.
After our mayor Cole’s brush with Hollywood comedy gold, he was close to being playfully chinned by an Irish sporting icon - former world champion boxer Barry McGuigan.
Barry - patron of the tournament charity, Clic Sargent - was among the many celebrities teeing off during a fantastic day of fun golf watched by a record attendance of 15,000 - almost four times a European Tour record.
Also singing Royal Portrush’s praises was Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill who said: “It’s just fantastic to be here. It’s so special and the whole tournament is going to be special.”
Legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings, who played alongisde former Open Championship winner John Daly was equally fulsome in his praise of the world-famous Dunluce links: “There’s no better place for it,” he said.
“I would be feeling a lot better myself if it wasn’t for those couple of Bushmills last night.”
World No2 Rory McIlroy, who was supported during the week by his girlfriend, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, following her early exit from Wimbledon, was delighted to be in Portrush.
“Everyone has been waiting a long time for the Irish Open to come back up north, and to have it played here at one of the best golf courses in the world is fantastic,” he said.
REPORT: DAVID RANKIN