The omens are good for Simon Dyson ahead of his Irish Open title defence after the Englishman and his team won the Wednesday morning Pro-Am, just as he did prior to his win in 2011.
Dyson and his team, Lawrence Pierson, Tony Connolly and Bro McFerran, won with a combined score of -28 over the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland. Crowds of 14,255 attended the Pro-Am tournament the day before one of the most eagerly-anticipated events of The European Tour begins, with plenty of celebrities from the acting, sporting and music entertainment business joining the host of golf stars as well as some lucky amateur golfers.
Led by Stephen Gallacher’s team of Royal Portrush’s Captain John Moss, Lady Captain Eva Mercer and Honorary Secretary Gary McCrudden - father of a young amateur who is in the field, Paddy – there was plenty of low-scoring. Michael Hoey, whose caddie Chris McKeown was carrying the bag on behalf of the Irish Open’s Official Charity CLIC Sargent, played alongside Mike Scardina, David Pester and Kevin McQuillan as they finished runner-up on -26.
USPGA Champion Keegan Bradley teed off soon after Hoey alongside Jan Aggerbeck, Dorothea Pacini and Kevin Flynn but finished further down the field on -13, while Legends of the Fall actor Aidan Quinn played alongside John Daly. One of the most entertaining groups of the day was that of Graeme McDowell, whose playing partner of Hollywood actor Bill Murray had the crowds in hysterics throughout, even hoisting aloft Alan Dunbar’s Amateur Championship trophy in the clubhouse after his round.
There was plenty of brotherly love in that group as the former US Open Champion had the pleasure of having his sibling Gary for company while Murray’s brother and fellow actor Joel also played. Darren Clarke had three generations of his family by his side for the Pro-Am as the former Open Champion was joined by his father Godfrey and son Tyrone as well as Darren’s friend and Westlife singer Shane Filan.
The 2012 Ryder Cup European Team Captain José María Olazábal, meanwhile, was joined by another top man manager in the shape of Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill as well as John Hopkins and Matt Adams of the PGA Tour Network and the Spaniard’s team emerged in third place thanks to a score of -21.