The 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open golf tournament got under way today at Ireland’s picturesque Royal County Down club. And while the event’s host player, Rory McIlroy, finished dead last with a lackluster nine-over-par 80 in the first round, he’s already a winner in the eyes of his young fans.
The world’s No. 1 golfer has teamed up with Nike to raise money and awareness for the Cancer Fund for Children in Northern Ireland. During each round of the tournament, McIlroy will sport a different pair of limited-edition Nike Lunar Control 3 golf shoes, designed via NikeiD by children whose lives have been impacted by cancer. All four shoes will be available for purchase on NikeiD.com, with a portion of the sales benefitting McIlroy’s philanthropic initiative, The Rory Foundation.
“I’m delighted that the young people associated with the Cancer Fund for Children got to design my shoes,” said McIlroy, whose foundation was established in 2010 to support children’s charities around the world. “The shoes are unique, with some crazy designs. The Irish Open is going to be a very special event for golf and for my foundation. I am excited to compete in [the shoes] this week.”
During today’s opening round, McIlroy wore a colorful design by 12-year-old Sara Lockhart, whose mother is battling breast cancer. Lockhart’s creation features a red toe box, purple lining, orange midsole topline and electric green laces. “I read that Rory really likes different shades of green, so I combined that with some of my favorite colors,” Lockhart explained.
For round two tomorrow, the 26-year-old golfer will don a sleek gray-and-green pair featuring the words “Go Rory” on the tongue. “Because it is for the Irish Open, I chose colors associated with Ireland,” said the shoe’s designer, 16-year-old Ryan Keenan. “It will be amazing and exciting to see Rory wearing [them].”
In the third round, McIlroy will lace up in 15-year-old Chloe Hyndman’s black-and-white pebble-print design, followed by 13-year-old Alex Kernaghan’s multicolored kicks in the fourth round.
In addition to the proceeds raised from shoe sales, McIlroy has pledged to donate any prize money he wins at this week’s Open to his foundation — so here’s hoping he can get his game back in swing.