The Northern Ireland Open, in association with SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank, produced another sensational champion as France’s Clément Sordet came through a busy leaderboard at Galgorm Castle to be crowned the 2015 champion in only his fourth start as a professional.
Sordet began the day two shots behind overnight leaders, Spain’s Emilio Cuartero Blanco and Ireland’s Niall Turner, but kept his composure to land his maiden professional win and the €27,200 first prize.
The 22-year-old closed with a final round 66 for a 17-under-par 267 winning aggregate to win by one from American John Hahn (66) in second. Daan Huizing, the 2013 NI Open champion from the Netherlands, carded a final round 66 to be tied third on 15-under alongside Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia (66), who leads the Road to Oman standings.
Sordet, who attended Texas Tech University in the United States, enjoyed a stellar amateur career and rose to 22 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). Last year he finished runner-up in the Le Vaudreuil Challenge in his home country when still an amateur and only turned professional in July this year.
The new champion endured fortune and misfortune this week after leaving one of his wedges on the practice green on Thursday evening. Not blaming his caddie, but without a crucial club in the bag, he borrowed another wedge from the Galgorm Castle Professional shop. He played that well with it, the borrowed wedge stayed in the bag all week.
Cork’s Turner dropped back with a final round 73 but still ended the week as leading Irishman, 12th on 12-under. Newcastle’s Simon Thornton (69) and local favourite Chris Selfridge (70) finished three shots further back, tied 16th on nine-under.
The Northern Ireland Open continues to evolve and gets bigger and better each year. Over the tournament week 39,250 came through the gates at the Ballymena venue to enjoy the world-class golf on show and the many other activities for the family such as the Golf Village, Good Food Festival at the Castle and Junior Coaching programmes.
The NI Open already enjoys a key date on the Challenge Tour’s international schedule and organisers are working towards another date in early August 2016.