THE stars came out in force as over 14,000 spectators enjoyed a record-breaking Pro Am at Royal Portrush last Wednesday.
Golf’s big names were joined by a who’s who from the world of sport and entertainment for the fun tournament held on the eve of the Irish Open Championship.
And the European Tour officials were delighted with one of the biggest crowds ever seen at a Pro Am event in the UK.
There were laughs galore as Caddyshack star Bill Murray teamed up with his actor brother Joel and hometown hero Graeme McDowell and his brother Gary for a day of craic and banter.
Former Arsenal, Spurs and NI goalkeeping legend, Pat Jennings and Irish actor Aidan Quinn hooked up with two-time major winner John Daly for their round in the morning.
Sunderland boss, Kilrea man Martin O’Neill, snagged one of the plum morning groupings alongside the legendary Spaniard José Maria Olazabal - and promptly finished in third place at close of play with an impressive -21 total.
Also out early was Clic Sargent patron, Barry McGuigan, the former world boxing champ who teed up alongside last year’s Irish Open winner Ross Fisher.
Senator Martin McAleese joined South Africa’s George Coetzee’s fourball in the afternoon while Westlife star Shane Filan, fresh from his weekend in Croker, enjoyed his round with the Clarke family — Darren, his father Godfrey and his son Tyrone.
The Ireland and Ulster hooker, Rory Best got to play alongside last week’s European Tour winner Danny Willett while Pro-Am regular, JP McManus and Dermot Desmond rubbed shoulders with Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello just after lunchtime.
Boyzone icon Ronan Keating, who warmed up for his round with a weekend at the Isle of Wight Festival, teed off alongside Irish star Paul McGinley and racing trainer Tom Taaffe.
Ulster’s director of rugby, David Humphreys was one of the last men out and was in good company with Italian maestro Francesco Molinari.
Daniel Miernicki’s Royal Portrush Golf Club team won the Irish Open morning tournament with a score of 21 under par. Miernicki’s team included Dick Agnew, Jane Allen and Roy Dunbar. The runner up was Richie Rainey’s Brewin Dolphin team with -20 and Lorenzo Gagli’s Genworth came in third on -19.
Simon Dyson’s Invest NI I team which included Lawrence Pierson, Tony Connolly and Bro McFerran won the afternoon tournament with a score of 28 under par. Second was Michael Hoey’s Invest NI team on -26 and third was Jose Maria Olazabal’s team on -21.