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Big Irish welcome for Woods

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Tiger Woods gets a hero's welcome from Irish golf fans at a charity event in County Limerick

By John Haughey
BBC Northern Ireland

Tiger Woods was mobbed in county Limerick as the world's number one golfer made his first appearance in Europe since the revelations of his extramarital affairs.

Woods' struggle for form continued on day one of the JP McManus Pro-Am as a seven-over 79 left only three players behind him in the 54-strong field.

But the tarnished sporting star appeared genuinely moved by the welcome from the estimated 40,000 fans who packed into the Adare Manor course.

The 34-year-old had to abandon his walk from the practice putting green to the first tee because of the throngs of spectators - instead having to be transported the short distance by car.

Heavy security followed Woods around the course during the remainder of his round although the cordon was breached by six-year-old Cork schoolgirl Ava Mulhall who darted onto the eighth fairway to get the world number one's autograph.

Her move drew delighted cheers from spectators as Ava even dodged a steward who tried to block her, to get to the heavily-protected Woods.

It's every person's dream who plays golf to play a round with Tiger Woods

Tony McCoy

The golfing superstar quietly signed the card and the Ballinadee National School pupil ran back to her father Colin and eight-year-old sister Grace with her mission accomplished.

"I'm delighted and I'm very proud," said Ava, who is a member of the Old Head of Kinsale golf club.

Her father Father Colin, a tax consultant, said that he had told his daughter to "run like hell, smile politely and say 'thank you'."

Woods played alongside Swiss banker Bernard Droux, jockey and son of racehorse tycoon John Magnier, JP Magnier and former Irish rugby international Brendan Mullin on the opening day of the event which has raised over £45m for charity in its five previous stagings.

Top National Hunt jockey Tony McCoy will be among those playing alongside the world's number one on Tuesday morning and the Ulsterman told BBC Sport that it would be a daunting prospect.

"At Tuesday morning at eight o'clock when I'm standing next to him, I don't think I'll be as cool as when I'm sitting on a horse," added McCoy.

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"It's every person's dream who plays golf to play a round with Tiger Woods."

Northern Irish golfing stars Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke were among those who did manage to grab a few words with Woods on Monday, with the American not planning to give any media interviews until Tuesday.

"I just asked him what he's going to do after this and he said that he's going to go home (before travelling back across the Atlantic for next week's Open Championship)," said McIlroy.

"It's nice to see him again and hopefully I'll catch up with him over the next couple of days."

Woods, McIlroy and recent US Open winner Graeme McDowell are among 12 of the world's top 15 competing in Limerick.

The field also includes Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington while other celebrities supporting the event include actors Michael Douglas and Samuel L Jackson, Premier League managers Martin O'Neill and Harry Redknapp and dancer Michael Flatley.

Furyk, Peter Hanson, John Cook and Rory Sabbatini were the only players to better par as they shot one-under 71s in the 36-hole event.

McIlroy and last year's Irish Open champion Shane Lowry were in a group on level par while McDowell had to be content with a 75.

The three players behind Woods included Justin Rose who shot an 80 after flying straight from Sunday's victory in the AT&T National in Pennsylvania.



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see also
McDowell back on course at Adare
05 Jul 10 |  Golf
Tee-time for sporting stars
07 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods questioned over doctor link
02 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods will make Ryder Cup - Pavin
30 Jun 10 |  Golf


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