As the world’s top golfer, Rory McIlroy isn’t short a few euro — but he may have made his shrewdest investment yet in getting a promising young Cork golfer’s autograph.
Eight-year-old Sean Reddy had a whirlwind few days last weekend when a trip away with his dad Simon culminated with the golf fanatic showing off his swing to the world number one in front of a huge media gathering.
Simon explained that the pair went to London last weekend to catch the Frank and Walters in concert. While there, they popped into Niketown, the sportswear giant’s massive central London store, where Sean practiced his swing on a golf simulator on Friday night.
Little did the Reddys know that Nike representatives were in the store at the time, and were so impressed with Sean’s 140-yard drives that they convinced the pair to extend their stay in London until Monday night — when Sean’s hero was in town for a promotional evening at Niketown.
Having shown the “ripple effect” Tiger Woods had on a young McIlroy in a recent TV ad, Nike executives agreed Sean was the perfect candidate to show how the Northern Irish golfer is now inspiring a new generation in his own right.
Sean’s golfing discovery couldn’t have been a more perfect story for Nike. Curiosity brought Simon and his son to the Irish Open in Fota last summer, and a glimpse of McIlroy was enough for the young Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil Glanmire student to catch the golfing bug.
Sean in the golf simulator in London that brought him to Nike’s attention.
Simon has since taken up the sport to join his son on the golf course.
“Rory clearly influenced Sean when he was in action at last year’s Irish Open, and he took up the sport because of this. But to have them visit London the weekend prior to Rory’s appearance was pure coincidence, and we were so grateful that Simon and Sean spoke with our staff at Nike Town and told us their story. Hopefully the experience of meeting Rory inspires Sean and other young athletes to enjoy all of the experiences of this amazing sport,” said Nike Golf EMEA brand director Dan Schenk.
Sean’s mother Alison flew to join the duo on Monday as her son was caught up in a day of media interviews with golf’s hottest talent.
Sean with Rory McIlroy and Chris Kamara
Having been convinced to stay on, Sean shared the limelight with McIlroy at the promotional event on Monday night — which culminated in Sean handing an autographed ball to the four-time major winner.
“I should keep this, it’s going to be worth a lot of money someday,” McIlroy said on receiving the autograph.
“It’s been like something from a Disney film,” Simon said after the event.
“Sean was so calm and collected, there wasn’t a bother on him,” he said, adding his praise for the “super” and “humble” McIlroy.
Sean Reddy, 8, next to a poster of Rory McIlroy at the age of 9.
Sean didn’t leave the event empty-handed. Along with signed memorabilia from McIlroy, Nike has arranged to have a custom-made set of clubs sent his way, and the golf pro at Fota has been tasked with keeping a special eye on his development.
So you heard it here first — and when the name Sean Reddy is lighting up the golfing world, you’ll know where to look for that momentous first autograph.
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