Biggest Pro-Am You’ve Never Heard Of Draws 8 Of World Top-10

It’s difficult for some of the biggest tournaments on the schedule to get commitments from the majority of the top-ranked players in the world, but a two-day celebrity pro-am in Ireland has managed to do just that, and it’s done so without appearance fees or special favors in the heart of the major championship season.

The J.P. McManus Pro-Am may be the most star-studded golf event that you’ve never heard of, and while that’s not necessarily by design, it’s easy to understand why that may be the case given the competition hasn’t been held in a decade.

The event, which will take place on July 6th and 7th at Adare Manor in Limerick, features a field of eight of the top-10 players in the world, a number that grew on Wednesday thanks to the commitment of current World No. 1 Brooks Koepka.

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Luke Donald, Paul McGinley, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and David Duval are all also committed to play in this year’s event.

Hosted by its namesake, McManus is an Irish businessman worth an estimated $2.3 billion, according to Forbes, and one who has befriended some of the greatest golfers on the planet.

McManus made his fortune in currency trading and bond markets before he transitioned into more sporting investments such as horse racing, club ownership, golf course design and gambling. 

A mainstay at the various pro-am events held on the world’s largest golf Tours, McManus’ affable personality has made him the exception to the rule when it comes to getting Tour pros to commit to events that feature no direct financial incentive for the players themselves.

“We come together for J.P., and for him only,” Tiger Woods told The Guardian at the 2005 edition of the pro-am. 

The July playing of the event will mark only the sixth time that it will be played since 1990, but over that span, €140 million in donations has been raised. 

An interesting piece of this puzzle is that aside from the best players in the world showing up, there’s an open qualification system that allows “regular” golfers a path of entry. In 2005, 9,000 people registered for its qualifier. For reference, in 2019, 9,125 people registered to qualify for the U.S. Open. 

Finally, perhaps the most impressive piece of the puzzle is the event date. With both Koepka and Johnson questioning whether or not the Olympics would fit into their schedules, both have committed to playing in an event in Ireland the Monday following the completion of the final round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Situated in the middle of the six-week stretch that includes the U.S. Open, a WGC, the French Open, the Scottish Open and the Open Championship, the J.P. McManus Pro-Am is practically guaranteed to have the third-strongest field. 

That’s some serious pull.