STAGE IS SET FOR NI OPEN AT GALGORM CASTLE
Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey among 22 Irish players in action
PRESS RELEASE: Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 15th, 2018
Tournament: 2018 Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf
Venue: Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena
Twitter/Hashtag: @galgormcastle #NIOpen
European Tour Highlights: 2017 NI Open
The waiting is almost over as the best players from across Europe and beyond have descended on Galgorm Castle for their chance to become the new NI Open champion. There is plenty of home interest too as the most popular event on the European Challenge Tour returns to a 72-hole strokeplay format.
The Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf gets under way from Thursday, August 16-19. It comes at a key point in the season as players jostle for position in the final push on the Road to Al Khaimah standings. The goal is simple, make it into the top 15 of the standings to secure playing rights on the main European Tour for next season.
Michael Hoey has enjoyed a return to form in recent months and is one of the players within touching distance of the coveted top 15. A strong week at Galgorm would go some way to helping the cause for the NI Open Tournament Ambassador.
“There is so little to choose between the main European Tour and Challenge Tour these days – apart from the obvious, prize money,” says Hoey, who is 26th in the standings, the highest ranked Irish player. “We are at that point in the season where guys focus on the Challenge Tour now rather than mix playing both tours in the hope of securing one of the 15 cards available.
“We have a strong field and the public will be guaranteed some great golf and the chance to see some new faces.”
At 39, Hoey is something of a veteran on tour these days, but the competitive juices still flow for the five-time European Tour winner. He has enjoyed four top 10s this season and believes he still has the game to win on tour.
“Putting has been key. I’ve got a lot of confidence back with my putter and that feeds through the whole game. I do think when I’m playing well I can still win out here, but you still need to be realistic because there is such depth and quality out here [on tour].”
Hoey says it’s important to have the home players competing and going well. There are 22 Irish players in action at Galgorm this week, Local interest will be satisfied by Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy or Chris Selfridge, who makes a welcome return to action on an invite after a long layoff with injury.
Other Irish hopefuls include the likes of Ruaidhri McGee, Gavin Moynihan, Niall Kearney, Gary Hurley and Cormac Sharvin.
“I’m not being biased, but it’s by far one of the best events of the year,” said Sharvin, who made it into Shootout Sunday last year. “I know a lot of the guys on Challenge Tour enjoy the way the course is set up and obviously they enjoy the Irish hospitality.
“There is always great support and that’s another reason to look forward to Galgorm. Hopefully we can have an Irish winner this year.”
Moynihan has had a mixed season with too many missed cuts at the start of the year. However, he teamed up with former Ireland and Walker Cup team mate Paul Dunne and won the European Tour’s GolfSixes representing Ireland. It was a timely win for the Dubliner who picked up €100,000, but more than that it helped kickstart his season. He has since recorded top 10 finishes in Italy and Scotland.
Waterford’s Hurley has shown glimpses of form but has struggled to put it all together on any given week. McGee has mixed his time between competing on the main European Tour and Challenge Tour and will look to move up the standings from his current position of 45th.
Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson is also in action at Galgorm. The Englishman returned to the winner’s circle in recent weeks when he defeated Road to Ras Al Khaimah leader Joachim B Hansen in a playoff at the Sweden Challenge.
Galway amateur Ronan Mullarney also tees it up at Galgorm after winning the Modest! Golf NI Amateur Open, sponsored by Specsavers Ballymena.
“The invite to the NI Open was the main reason for playing,” said the Irish international at the time, who won by three strokes with rounds of 67, 66 for a nine-under-par 133 total. The Maynooth University scholar will gain invaluable experience competing against some of the best players in Europe.
“Everyone is pleased the NI Open is back to 72-hole strokeplay. Speak to all the guys on tour and it’s always one of the best events they play in all year,” added Hoey. “I love being associated with such a great tournament. It’s easy being the Tournament Ambassador. Gary Henry and all the team do the heavy lifting. All I have to do is turn up and play some golf.”
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Cormac Sharvin from Ardglass is one of 22 Irish players competing in the Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf, at Galgorm Castle in Ballymena