The excitement among the local communities around Carton House was cranked up a notch yesterday when two former Irish Open champions, Richard Finch and Brett Rumford, visited the towns of Celbridge and Maynooth to launch the start of this year’s festivities.
Finch and Rumford, recently appointed as golfing Ambassadors for Celbridge and Maynooth respectively for the during of the 2013 Irish Open, engaged with two of the strong local communities living within a short distance of the tournament venue.
Finch, Irish Open winner in 2008, was given a rapturous welcome by the 320 schoolchildren at St.Patrick’s National School in Celbridge, just a 12 minute drive from Carton House while Rumford entertained a large crowd of enthusiasts as he hit shots down Carton Avenue close to the golf course.
Both players then judged the Best Shop Front displays in the two towns, who have embraced the Irish Open to the extent of decorating their main street stores with a distinctive golfing theme.
Englishman Finch, famous for winning at Adare Manor then almost slipping into the water hazard at the final hole, thoroughly enjoyed the experience of planting a sapling apple tree at St.Patrick’s, helped by the Pupil Council Committee.
The Hull golfer then enthralled the youngsters, who cheered and applauded every shot as they were shown the finer points of the game at a short clinic in the school playing fields.
Rumford, who won the Irish Open in 2004 and claimed back to back titles on The European Tour’s Race to Dubai this season, judged a local art competition undertaken by youngsters in Maynooth before hitting a series ofimpressive shots down the six foot wide pathway of Carton Avenue leading down to the course itself.
The Australian then took a tour of the town centre on a golf cart to view the excellent entries in the Best Shop Front competition, the winner of which will received two tickets to Corporate Hospitality on the third round of the Irish Open on Saturday. All the prize winners will be announced on Wednesday.
Finch said: “It was a brilliant experience, just seeing the sheer enthusiasm and excitement of all the young school kids at St. Partick’s. It is nice to see the local community get behind the Irish Open and to be able to show the youngsters how much fun golf can be.”
Rumford added: “Ireland is an incredible place and today just shows how the communities can get behind big events like the Irish Open. It’s not often you can go off-site into a town centre so close to a tournament and to engage with the locals. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”
Another former winner, Ross Fisher, is due to visit the town of Leixlip tomorrow morning as part of the Three Town Initiative, which hasseen Celbridge, Leixlip and Maynooth put together an impressive programme of events in the towns to entertain visitors, golf fans, tourists and locals alike.