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Graeme McDowell puts Team Ireland special Olympic golfers through their paces at Irish Open 2015

By Jenny Kirkham

Team Ireland received a major boost to their preparations for this summer's Special Olympics as they were put through their paces by Graeme McDowell at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

The Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down, treated seven member of the Team Ireland golf team to a bird’s eye view of the action on the penultimate day of the tournament. The golfers also had the chance to soak up the atmosphere at Ireland’s most prestigious golf tournament, as The European Tour’s VIP guests.

Team Ireland are getting set to compete at this summer's Special Olympics in Los Angeles.

Starting off the day on a high, Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Padraig Harrington took time out to meet the athletes ahead of teeing off, providing valuable tips to the team, who travelled from right across Ireland for a once in a lifetime opportunity to see their heroes in action.

Since becoming a Special Olympics Global Ambassador in May 2010, Harrington has donated his time and expertise to the Special Olympics movement across the world by conducting golf clinics for athletes and coaches.

Harrington said: "The talent, focus and commitment of our Team Ireland golfers is truly inspiring and it was great to meet them at Royal County Down to provide a few tips to help with their preparations ahead of LA2015. I look forward to following their progress at the World Games this summer."

And, in the biggest surprise of the day, the athletes were put through their paces by Northern Irish golfing great, Graeme McDowell in a putting competition. Officials from The European Tour had planned the surprise for the athletes to round off a great day at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Graeme McDowell said: "It’s fantastic to meet these golfers that will be representing Ireland out in LA this summer – it’s such a special thing to get the chance to represent your country. I'll have to get back to practice myself after seeing these athletes in action – perhaps they’ll give me some tips."

It's a big year for Special Olympics Ireland, with 88 athletes preparing to travel to Los Angeles to compete as part of Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Their selection comes after four years of training and competition.

The World Games will take place in L.A. from July 25 until August 2, 2015.

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