Crowds were treated to a feast of golf and celebrity at Carton House on Wednesday as some of the biggest names in the game came face-to-face with stars of the sport and music worlds in the Irish Open Pro-Am.
With the sun shining, and plenty of people filing through the gates, there was a great atmosphere across the Montgomerie Course as galleries were able to get up close and personal with some of their heroes.
The marquee group of the morning saw World Number Two Rory McIlroy line up alongside Ukrainian football Legend Andriy Shevchenko, who has clearly been working on his game since his retirement last year, as he teed it up playing off an impressive handicap of two.
Shevchenko, who was awarded the Ballon D’Or in 2004 as the world’s best footballer, was clearly revelling out on course alongside the Northern Irishman, and playing with Rory McIlroy was something that the Ukrainian saw as a great privilege.
“I’m really enjoying it,” explained the former Chelsea star. “To play with Rory (McIlroy) is something very special, as he is a great player, and a very nice guy, and I’m having a wonderful time playing here in Ireland.
“My golf is pretty good, I’m playing off a handicap of two, and have made a few birdies, but I’m really enjoying the company and the course looks very nice.
“There is a great balance to the course as you can test yourself on some holes, but there is also plenty to enjoy. It’s in perfect condition, the greens are very fast, and overall it’s really nice. It is still a tough course, but it is playable, and that’s why it is so great to play here.”
There were also some notable names from a little closer to home, as Dublin born 1997 Snooker World Champion Ken Doherty took to the course alongside Frenchman Romain Wattel.
The snooker player was clearly relishing the gorgeous weather on Wednesday, but as he lipped out from ten feet on the first it was apparent that he is a still little more dangerous with a cue in hands than a putter, although he was having a great time regardless.
“It’s beautiful, I couldn’t ask for better,” admitted the 14 handicapper. “Typical Irish weather as you can see, but it really is a fantastic day and I’m sure it’s going to be a great tournament, and I’m looking forward to watching a lot of good golf over the next four days.
“I’ve played here at Carton House half a dozen times and I’m very impressed with it as it is a tough course, and it will be a good test for the guys because once they go off the fairway this rough is quite punishing, but I’m sure they’ll really enjoy it here, and there’s going to be great crowds as well, I’m sure.”
Looking to help his team with a little local knowledge was also Carton House member, and ex-member of Irish boy band Westlife, Brian McFadden who was playing alongside 2012 BMW International Open winner Danny Willett.
McFadden was playing off a handicap of 18 in the Pro-Am, but looked like an impressive striker, clearly inspired as he teed it up alongside such talented company as Willett.
He said: “The day’s been good, a bit up and down, with some really good holes, but a few really stinking ones too. But it has been a lot of fun, and getting to go round and watch Danny (Willett) play, he’s amazing, it really makes us realise how poor we are when you watch someone like him hit the ball.
“I’m a member here at Carton House and it is a magnificent golf course, it’s in great condition, and they’ve done an incredible job, and thankfully we’ve got the weather, so hopefully it will hold out and we should see some low scoring, and have a fun weekend.”
Also in action on Wednesday were fellow Irish boy band member Keith Duffy, who performed for almost a decade as part of Boyzone, as well Royal Ascot Champion Jockey Johnny Murtagh.