COMETH the roar, cometh the Tiger.
Just after 1.30pm yesterday, the man most had come to see swept through the applause and cheers of thousands to tee off to the sound of a shotgun blast and an afternoon of golf he would probably rather forget.
For one little girl, however, the afternoon at Adare Manor was far more memorable.
If Tiger had shrugged off the requests of hundreds of autograph hunters at the JP McManus Pro Am, little Ava Mulhall was not to be denied.
Braving beefy bodyguards, the six-year-old, from Innishannon, Co Cork, broke through the boundary fence and onto the green at the eighth hole, undeterred by shouts of security staff warning her to stop.
“Go on,” roared, the crowd. “Let her through” they shouted, entertained at last in a round that had offered little top-drawer golf.
Ava had already collected autographs from 19 of the big guns, including John Daly, Pádraig Harrington and Jose Marie Olazabal, but her hero, the world No 1, had remained out of reach.
Cheered on by spectators, the Ballinadee National School pupil, who has played golf for a year, sidestepped a steward onto the fairway and Tiger, catching sight of the youngster, put out his hand. Taking her card he signed his only autograph of the afternoon.
Declaring herself “delighted and proud” the intrepid youngster ran back to her father, Colin, who had played a small hand in what was surely the gutsiest display of the day.
“I told her to run like hell, smile politely and say ‘thank you’,” he revealed, proving that speed, good manners and a smile makes a 40,000-in-one chance infinitely better than no chance at all.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved