Fair play on the fairways is par for the course

TEEMING with tanned, fit talent, soaked in sunshine and rife with goodwill, there was something for everyone in the audience on the first day of the JP McManus Pro Am where starlets and Ordinary Joes combined forces for the greater good.

If most of the top names were well off the pace, at least one hard hitter proved he could still smoke up the greens – literally. John Daly puffed his way around the fairways of Adare proving darts is not the only sport where a few cigs are par for the course.

Hangovers were also rumoured. Hugh Grant, hiding behind a giant pair of shades, obligingly signed a few autographs having missed his morning tee-off. He set out instead after lunch with Sandy Lyle.

Kyle MacLachlan, aka Orson, was Bree-free and wheelchair-free. The Desperate Housewives star, generous with time and chat, told fans he will reappear next season, but only in the first few episodes before disappearing for a while.

“I had to ditch the wheelchair because JP insisted no carts on the course,” he said.

He got to know JP through Paul McGinley.

“He (JP) welcomed me into the family and here I am, looking forward to the few days and excited to be here. JP is a tremendous host and everyone is being treated incredibly well,” he said.

Paul McGinley, critical of his own performance, was part of a Charlie McCreevy/Michael Douglas team.

“Is Ireland the only country in the world where a former Finance Minister can line out with a guy from Wall St?” one wag asked, a reference to the actor’s role as Gordon Gekko.

The increasingly Kirkish Michael was spotted later strolling hand-in-hand with stunning wife Catherine Zeta Jones, who squeezed in some local shopping.

“It’s always lovely to come to Ireland,” she said, though this time the children stayed at home because of the brevity of the trip. She is planning an appearance at tonight’s gala ball.

Peter Gallagher who plays Sandy Cohen in US drama The OC, said it was a “privilege” to take part in a tournament that “is clearly designed to benefit so many” as well as an opportunity to be with family in Ireland.

Michael Flatley shared his sentiment.

“It’s a wonderful tournament. We would do anything for JP, he’s one of the greatest men I know and it’s going to help an awful lot of local charities,” Michael said.

Not-so-fresh off the fairways of Aronimink, Philadelphia, where on Sunday he won the AT&T, Justin Rose looked exhausted.

“I didn’t get much sleep. Just an hour, actually. I didn’t sleep on the plane. We popped a cork, not too much, but we toasted it, for sure.”

He was, however, looking forward to playing in Irish conditions.

“I haven’t played in this sort of weather for a long time. I mean it was 95 degrees yesterday and today it’s nice and fresh, this is perfect. It’s an amazing event, it’s incredible how much money JP has raised.”

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp had a “fantastic time” despite an “average” game and had no news on summer signings.

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill loved taking part but felt he could have played “slightly better”.

Westlife’s Nicky Byrne was “motoring along” while closer to the club his wife Georgina Ahern tried to keep tabs on sons Jay and Rocco with the help of grandma, Miriam Ahern.

“It’s such a treat for Nicky,” she said.

“And the children are having a ball, we spent the weekend in Adare Manor and we’ve had the best time.”

So did most of the 40,000-strong crowd. Not so happy were the hundreds stuck in 10-mile tailbacks, crawling their way from Charleville to Adare in an effort to reach the first tee before Tiger struck off at 1.30pm.

The entrance caps are sold out today so don’t come without.


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