AFTER a morning greyer in parts than Tiger’s sweater and with more bluster than John Daly, no one could have moaned if the numbers were down.
Instead, record numbers – 45,000 – lined the ropes in Adare, proving golf and good causes are a heady mix when it comes to pulling a crowd.
The driving range was a popular spot come lunchtime when celebrities took time to sign autographs and chat to fans.
Hugh Grant was hoping for a better performance.
“On Monday, I was not at my best. I was in England and I flew in Monday morning the worse for wear.
“Playing golf with the pros is very intimidating. I mean I do it every year at the Dunhill links, but it never gets any better. My hands still shake.”
Former Liverpool and Spurs footballer Jamie Redknapp said the highlight of his week was meeting Tiger Woods and actor Aidan Quinn said he was thrilled to be playing with Rory McIlroy.
Snooker player Ken Doherty said the JP McManus Pro Am was “even better this year”.
“I love coming here, I wouldn’t miss it, I got the phonecall a couple of weeks ago and I was checking the post every day a month previous to that to see where my invitation was.”
For Michael Douglas, it was his virgin visit to Adare. The course, he said, was beautiful.
“Am I nervous? Not when you play as bad as I play. If I was a little better, I probably would be,” he said.
Jockey Tony McCoy had a few dodgy shots, one of which hit seven-year-old Stephen O’Loughlin, from Beaufort, Co Kerry. To make amends, he asked teammate Tiger to sign the boy’s cap. “He did get a fair whack on the back of the leg but the cap helped with a miraculous recovery,” said Stephen’s father, Gavin.
The world number one was also generous with words. He told a packed press room how JP McManus “meant a lot to my life”; how the fantastic reaction of fans had helped his return to golf since the breakdown of his marriage and how he will fly home to the US before returning to Scotland next week for the British Open because he “wants to see his kids”.
Despite the turmoil in his own life, Tiger said he was “privileged and honoured” to take part in the Pro-Am.
“I always want to support what JP is doing, the charitable efforts he’s made over the years, it’s one of the reasons why I come back.
“What he has done is just remarkable. Just look at the field and look at the people, the participants who have come out here to support this event, and if I can help out in any way, then I will.”
Asked if golf appeared trivial in the light of what has happened over the last few months, Tiger said there were “times in one’s life when things get put in perspective; one being when my father passed and obviously what I’ve been going through lately”.
However, “everything is working itself out”, he said.
Asked if there was any other event besides the Pro-Am that he would take such a time-out from his schedule to honour, Tiger replied he liked to support friends.
“JP has meant a lot to my life and I truly believe in what he’d doing to help others and that’s why I’m here.”
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