Belfast Telegraph

Irish Open 2015: Rory McIlroy's superstar pals lend support at charity bash

McIlroy's charitable side on a par with his sporting prowess as he joins fundraiser at Daisy Lodge cancer event

By Steven Beacom

Rory McIlroy wins golf tournaments like nobody else on the planet at the moment.

The impressive young man is fast becoming equally adept at winning hearts and minds off the course.

The world number one from Holywood spoke with genuine pride and affection last night about helping some of those less fortunate than himself in Northern Ireland, as he hosted a star-studded fundraising event in aid of the Cancer Fund for Children at Daisy Lodge, outside Newcastle.

For good measure he brought a couple of superstar mates, popular Spaniard Sergio Garcia and classy American Rickie Fowler, with him to the bash taking place just a few miles away from the Royal County Down Golf Course, which is staging this year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Rory's charitable Foundation is hosting the tournament and doing an excellent job of it, with McIlroy the man everyone wants to see.

At Daisy Lodge, the 26-year-old's presence was appreciated just as much by 200 invited guests, who enjoyed entertainment from another local favourite, Dundrum native Patrick Kielty, compere and wit for the evening as well as a spectacular show from the renowned Riverdance company.

Those in attendance also heard all about Daisy Lodge and the wonderful work it does to give families affected by cancer a warm and welcoming place to stay when quite simply they need a break.

McIlroy had previously pledged to donate £1m to the state-of-the-art facility, which has helped almost 400 families from across the island of Ireland.

Speaking at the event, he said: "When I first came here and heard the stories of the families I was genuinely touched and I wanted to help. I'm proud that I have been able to give something back to Daisy Lodge."

He also thanked everyone involved with the Rory Foundation for their sterling efforts.

In response Gillian Creevy, CEO of the Cancer Fund for Children, gave an emotive speech about how important it is to have the four-time major winner on their side.

"This week Rory McIlroy brings the eyes of the world to the Irish Open, to Royal County Down and to Daisy Lodge," she said.

"His work has raised our profile and is making a tangible difference. We are proud and grateful to be a beneficiary of the Rory Foundation and for the associated benefits. Rory is an important part of what we are doing today and what we plan to do tomorrow.

"Having you here is creating a magical moment in time for us. And how many magical moments has our host, Rory, given to us over the last few years?

"Well, for us in the Cancer Fund for Children, our spine-tingling moments are created every single day. When a young person fighting a cancer diagnosis turns to us and says: 'I just wouldn't have gotten through this without you,' or a mum says: 'Before I came here, I never thought I would ever laugh again, but a few days in this magical place has quite simply lifted my whole world'. This is when we know we are getting it right."

McIlroy was joined on stage by Fowler, accompanied to the event by girlfriend Alexis, and Garcia for a question and answer session conducted by Di Dougherty from Sky Sports.

They may be rivals on the fairways and greens, but it was clear by their interaction and ability to poke fun at one another that the trio are close friends.

Fowler and Garcia admitted that once McIlroy had asked them to play in this year's Irish Open, they couldn't turn him down, adding how much they are looking forward to taking on the famed Royal County Down course.

To the relief of all the amateurs in the audience, McIlroy revealed that he had lost balls playing on the links earlier this week during practice. If even the best player on the globe does it... the rest of us shouldn't feel so bad.

This morning Rory was due to tee off in the pro-am event and he had three strangers for company who at an impromptu auction last night bid upwards of £150,000 to join him in a four-ball, with the cash going to the Cancer Fund for Children. Watched by his proud parents Gerry and Rosie, McIlroy had joked moments before that he would bid £100,000 to play the course by himself.

He didn't have to... the stakes were soon raised. Everyone wants a piece of Rory. Northern Ireland is lucky to have him.

Belfast Telegraph


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