The stars of stage, screen and sport will be out in force this week when the annual curtain-raiser for the Irish Open – the Wednesday Pro-Am - takes place at Carton House in County Kildare.
No-one is currently bigger in Ireland right now than ace Irish jockey Johnny Murtagh, fresh from his incredible performance at Royal Ascot last week where he booted home four winners to land the title of Leading Jockey over the five days of sizzling action.
Buoyed by that dream week in Berkshire, Murtagh swapped his whip for a golf club when he visited Carton House’s Montgomerie Course this week ahead of the Irish Open, taking place from July 27-30.
Murtagh will be participating in the morning ‘shotgun’ section of Wednesday’s Pro-Am (08.00 start), aiming to ‘whip up’ support for the popular European Tour event which heralds a packed weekend of sport for the County of Kildare, with the The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby also taking place nearby in the Curragh.
The genial jockey enjoyed pitting his wits against the 176 yard par 3 17th hole, where around 1500 spectators can cheer their favourites from a superb grandstand surrounding the green. Wristbands for ‘Open House@17’ are available for purchase at €10 per day.
Also from the world of sport in the Pro-Am is Dubliner Ken Doherty, the 1997 World Snooker Champion, who will be hoping to ‘pot’ a few birdies along with his fellow members of RESPECT Ireland, the Official Charity of the Irish Open 2013.
Former Chelsea footballer, Andriy Shevchenko shows off his prowess on the golf course in the company of leading Irish businessman and financier Dermot Desmond, also in the morning Shotgun, while the world of music is represented by former Westlife singer Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy of Ireland’s other famous ‘boy band’ Boyzone.
Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Golf Tourism, Tony Lenehan said: “If you love sport, this is the weekend for you and Kildare is the place to be. Even if you just like a good mixture of spectacle, excitement and socialising then make sure you get out of the traps and book your ticket now.”
Four Irish Major Champions – Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy - will compete at Carton House along with Carton’s Touring Professional, Shane Lowry, a host of Tour winners and Ryder Cup stars including 2014 captain Paul McGinley.
The stage is set for a superb platform for the event’s return to the Republic of Ireland after a visit to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland last year.
To complement the sporting action, Maynooth, Celbrigde and Leixlip - the “Three Irish Open Towns” as they are known locally - have joined forces to ensure that local tourism and business interests embrace the Irish Open as an opportunity to promote all that is great about the county.
Tickets for Wednesday’s Pro-Am are €10 while tickets for the championship itself are available on the gate, priced €30 for Any One Day (concessions €20) and seasons at €70 (€50). Anyone wishing to reserve a seat in the grandstand at the 17th hole – known as Open House@17 – can purchase a wristband for an additional €10 per day.
Additionally, joint tickets for the Irish Open on Saturday, June 29 and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Currash are available priced €50.
Admission is free for Under-16s accompanied by an Adult. Parking is also free of charge.
Find out more about the Irish Open at www.discoverireland.ie/irishopen