Javier Ballesteros is the latest household name to compete in next week’s Northern Ireland Open, in association with SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank, at Galgorm Castle from August 6-9.
Ballesteros may not have reached the dizzy heights of his legendary father Seve, but the 24-year-old Spaniard is quietly going about his business and cutting his teeth on the European Challenge Tour.
With such a famous surname in golf, one of Javier’s greatest challenges is emerging from the shadows of his father, the five-time Major winner and Ryder Cup hero who inspired a Continent with so many epic battles against the Americans.
Javier has always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father into the professional game and joined the paid ranks at the end of last year. He initially registered for the Alps Tour Qualifying School and this year has enjoyed a few starts on the Challenge Tour. His best finish was tied 18th in the Najeti Open in France in June.
“This is something I have always wanted. Whether I will succeed or not, time will tell,” said Javier of turning professional and the major influence his dad had on him. “He taught me everything or almost everything I know about golf, and I would have loved him to see me turning pro. I am sure he would be very proud.”
Ballesteros is one of many international competitors hoping to land the NI Open title won last year by Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren. He is joined in the field by compatriot Nacho Elvira, a two-time winner this season who is searching for a third that would earn him automatic promotion onto the main European Tour.
Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia tops the Road to Oman standings in a season that began with six top 10s – including two runners-up in Kenya and Madrid – before winning the Aegean Airlines Challenge in Germany.
Gouveia is closely followed by the in-form Rhys Davies, who is also looking for a third win of the season after claiming the Turkish Airlines Challenge and Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana.
“It’s really nice to play well again and win…I’ll regroup and try for a third,” said the 30-year-old Welshman, who won the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco on the main European Tour five years ago.
Entry to next week’s Northern Ireland Open is free, simply register online at www.niopen.co.uk/tickets