JP McManus Pro-Am: Fan frenzy to the fore as celebs grab attention at Adare Manor

Crowds travel from across the country to see the golf, but with Limerick jerseys aplenty there is a distinctly local feel

Tens of thousands of people took to the fairways of Adare Manor on Monday morning as the 2022 JP McManus Pro-Am kicked off with fans eager to find their favourite golfers and celebrities.

Up to 40,000 caps have been sold for the event at the Limerick course, flat caps taking the place of physical tickets.

With many of the higher-profile golfers teeing off in the afternoon, the focus of the morning was on the famous amateur golfers, a group with Westlife members Cian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne, playing with professional Sam Burns one such group attracting attention.

Adare Manor is a tough course and the favourable format, Shamble, where the lowest single net score returned at each hole is the team score, was much needed for the amateur players.

Some of the amateurs showed nerves in front of the crowds and “Fore” was heard for several wayward shots across the course, but the format allowed their balls to be picked up quickly. Former Ireland rugby player Keith Wood was overheard saying “I hit one into the crowd and they slagged the hell out of me for it.”

The largest following of the morning, however, focused on the A-list celebrity group of English professional Luke Donald playing with actors Bill Murray, Jamie Dornan and Niall Horan.

Screaming and giggling in the crowd was heard among the younger female audience as Dornan and Horan walked past the galleries, interacting with some awe-struck fans.

Two local girls, teenagers Ellen and Niamh Hayes, were two such fans who stopped by after Horan’s tee shot to take a selfie. The exhilarated girls turned to their father and said “well, that’s our year made.”

“We’ve been following Niall Horan’s group all day, the girls love him,” their father Pádraig Hayes said. “We are from the local area of Adare, we’re taking the chance to enjoy some golf in a place we’re familiar with. We were at Croke Park yesterday so we’ve had a great few days.”

“The girls are absolutely delighted by it. It’s a really cool thing that he did.”

Another fan said Jamie Dornan was the “only reason that we’re here”. Luke Donald walked along and played his golf in relative anonymity by comparison.

Bill Murray, a natural and staple of celebrity Pro-Ams, had a great rapport with the galleries, walking along the ropes taking pictures and cracking jokes. A good shot by Murray on the 12th got the Caddieshack treatment, reminiscent of his famous scene with the gophers, with the American lapping up the applause.

Fans had travelled from across the country to see the golf, but with Limerick jerseys aplenty, there was a distinctly local feel. Adam Scott, who joined the host of the event to watch Limerick beat Galway on Sunday, was asked if he enjoyed the hurling to which he politely agreed. Murray, who is quickly becoming Limerick’s most famous supporter, was asked if he will stay around for the final.

“Like a Limerick hurler”, shouted one fan after a nice approach by Masters champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler, playing with Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, his brother Eddie and barrister Martin Hayden. Only to be outdone by Eddie O’Leary peppering the flag. Scheffler’s caddie Ted Scott joking “You know I told Scottie to hit it like that”.

“Nice flight on that!” was another quip from the crowd after a well-hit shot by Michael O’Leary, who was in a relaxed mood and happy to interact with the gallery as he was followed around with a group that included Gordon Elliott. He was particularly impressed by Scheffler after one particularly long drive on the third hole. Laughing he said, “now that’s ball speed!”

David Gorman

David Gorman

David Gorman is a sports journalist with The Irish Times