What started as a father-son weekend away ended with the stuff of dreams for one golf-mad Cork boy who found himself signing autographs for the World No 1 Rory McIlroy.
Simon Reddy brought his son Seán to London last weekend, and popped into sportswear giant Nike’s flagship store during their visit.
While in Niketown, the eight-year-old took on the store’s golf simulator and began showing off how far he can drive a ball.
Nike staff immediately noticed Seán’s technique, a swing modelled on his hero’s own tee-shot, and enquired about his golfing history.
From that moment, the Cork boy’s weekend took an unexpected turn.
Little did the Reddys realise that Nike were hosting a media event on Monday night based on their ‘ripple effect’ campaign, the centrepiece of which is a TV ad showing how the young McIlroy was inspired by his own hero, Tiger Woods.
The talented Cork boy — who took up golf having witnessed McIlroy in action at the Irish Open in Fota last summer — was now a perfect example of how McIlroy has continued the ripple effect and inspired a new generation in his own right.
By Saturday night, Simon had received calls from Nike marketing executives asking if the pair could extend their trip by a couple of days.
Come Monday morning, Seán’s mother Alison joined them as the Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil Glanmire student spent the day shadowing his hero and appearing with him at the Niketown event.
‘This is what the ripple effect is all about. Rory clearly influenced Seán when he was in action at last year’s Irish Open, and he took up the sport because of this,” Nike Golf EMEA brand director Dan Schenk told the Irish Examiner.
Sean in the golf simulator in London that brought him to Nike’s
“But to have them visit London the weekend prior to Rory’s appearance was pure coincidence, and we were so grateful that Simon and Seán spoke with our staff and told us their story. Hopefully the experience of meeting Rory inspires Seán and other young athletes to enjoy all of the experiences of this amazing sport.”
While Seán came away from the experience with a set of custom-made golf clubs, merchandise, and his hero’s autograph, nothing could come close to the memory he will cherish of giving his autograph to Rory McIlroy in front of a packed media gathering.
“I should keep this, it’s going to be worth a lot of money someday,” McIlroy said, taking the signed ball from an eight-year-old who is now teeing off cloud nine.
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