Celebrities and golfing superstars were out in force in Portstewart today as the Irish Open kicked off with a tournament pitting professional golfers alongside amateurs whose prowess on the greens would not be their most recognisable skill.
The pro-am event attracted a sizeable crowd to Portstewart Golf Course, with local actor Jamie Dornan proving a popular draw alongside host Rory McIlroy.
Both the Holywood men were the toast of the seaside town, posing for pictures and signing autographs.
McIlroy was the consummate host as he made his way around the course, trading banter with the host of stars he had assembled for the event including Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, champion jockey AP McCoy, Hollywood actor Aiden Quinn and Irish businessman Dermot Desmond.
Northern Ireland’s finest from the worlds of football and golf came together yesterday when McIlroy caught up with Portstewart native Harry Gregg.
The golfer is a big fan of Manchester United and is no doubt well versed in the heroics of Busby Babe Gregg for the Red Devils.
Northern Irish golfers Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke did not miss the opportunity for an informal round on home soil and some other big name golfers taking part in the Irish Open took the opportunity to have a very public practice round as part of the pro-am.
They included Andrew Johnston, Marcel Fraser, Justin Rose and Miguel Ángel Jiménez who proved just how relaxed he was as he puffed a trademark cigar as he made his way round the course.
No high-profile event in Northern Ireland would be complete without an appearance from Jimmy Nesbitt and the actor looked to be in high spirits, revelling in the fact his ‘part of the world’ was in the spotlight.
It was to prove a memorable day for nine-year-old Charlie Smyth.
Back in December, McIlroy surprised the youngster from Cavan on RTE’s Late Late Toy Show and invited him to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Yesterday, the Rory Foundation gave Charlie another surprise by giving him a golfing lesson on the range at Portstewart with English professional Graeme Storm.