Rory McIlroy returned to Belfast tonight ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, taking place this week at Portstewart Golf Club. McIlroy hosted an evening in aid of his Foundation, the Rory Foundation, with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola at the Belfast Waterfront. Hosted by award-winning Actor James Nesbitt, the event was attended by nearly 3,000 people including members of Two Door Cinema Club, former rugby player Stephen Ferris and Northern Irish golfer Tom McKibbin. Former Westlife singer Shane Filan gave a surprise performance at the end of the evening, performing a few well-known Westlife songs.
Taking to the stage at the Belfast Waterfront, McIlroy spoke about his win at last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, his FedEx Cup, his thrilling Ryder Cup performance and the latest work of the Rory Foundation including the 1.2million euro donation to Cancer Fund for Children for their next project in Connacht.
“I know I always say it but I love coming home – there’s no place like it. There’s just so many familiar faces here this evening, which is really amazing to see. I’m excited to have Pep Guardiola here in Northern Ireland. It’s a great thing he’s joining us this evening and I’m really looking forward to him playing in tomorrow’s Pro Am tomorrow at Portstewart. I’d like to thank Pep, Jimmy Nesbitt and Shane Filan for supporting my Foundation and taking the time to come here this evening – I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope we can raise as much money as possible tonight and throughout the week for the fantastic causes supported by my Foundation,” said McIlroy.
Joining Rory at the Belfast Waterfront was Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola. The manager spoke about his career to date including his playing career with Barcelona and his managerial career with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and his current role with Manchester City.
Throughout the evening, McIlroy and Guardiola reminisced about their successful careers to date. Asked about his chances of holding on to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open trophy this week, McIlroy said;
“To win last year at The K Club was pretty special. Lots of my family and friends were there and to win for my Foundation was the icing on the cake. It was quite emotional, actually. I hope I can hit the ground running this year and make the strongest possible defence of my title. Portstewart will be a great challenge this week and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Chief Executive of the Rory Foundation, Barry Funston, added;
“What a great way to kick off the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. We have a sold-out evening with Rory, Pep Guardiola, James Nesbitt and Shane Filan, so we have an entertaining evening in store. Thank you to everyone who has bought a ticket to support us. By supporting us, you’re also supporting Sport Changes Life and the Harry Gregg Foundation.”