The 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Ballyliffin Golf Club, Co. Donegal, got off to a spectacular start on Wednesday as stars of the celebrity and sporting world featured in the Pro Am competition which kicked off the tournament.
A total of 51 teams played the stunning links course on the Inishowen Peninsula, and they were led by 12 teams featuring representatives from Dubai Duty Free. Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, Colm McLoughlin joined 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open champion, Søren Kjeldsen for his round.
It was the team led by the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open winner, Jon Rahm and featuring Dermot Davitt, Damien Fox and Brian King that won the morning competition finishing on -30. Rose Doyle had the nearest the pin for ladies while the longest drive for men was won by Mark Hamilton. Nearest the pin for men was won by former rugby player, Keith Wood.
The evening Pro Am winning team was led by professional Chris Paisley who played with Barry McGrath, Mark Murnane and Philip McEnroe. They brought in a score of -33. The longest drive for ladies was won by Avril Fulton while Gerard Sproule won the men’s longest drive. Nearest the pin for men was won by Jonathan Styles.
Some of the most famous names in sport were on the course to play in the curtain-raiser event, including tournament host Rory McIlroy who was joined on his team by JP McManus, Dermot Desmond and former jockey, Sir AP McCoy.
Other well-known faces spotted on the course were former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, actor James Nesbitt, former Boyzone star, Keith Duffy, Brian McFadden formerly of Westlife and Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke. Sports stars who played included Keith Wood, Stephen Ferris, Paddy Wallace, Shay Given, Dennis Taylor, and GAA stars Kieran Donaghy and Michael Murphy.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said; “That was a very good start to what promises to be a great week of golfing action at the Ballyliffin Golf Club for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. The standard of golf out there was very impressive, and it was great to partner with Søren Kjeldsen who won the first Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2015.”
“It’s obvious from playing the course that this is going to challenge each and every player out there, and whoever emerges as the winner will have to play some truly top-class golf. At Dubai Duty Free we are proud to continue our sponsorship of this great event into its fourth year and delighted that the tournament has grown in stature.”
Attention now turns to the main attraction of the week as the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation tees off early on Thursday morning with Rory McIlroy aiming to claim back the title he won in 2016 and Jon Rahm defending his 2017 win.