The waiting is over and it’s time to let the golf do the talking as the third staging of the Northern Ireland Open, in association with SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank, gets under way at Galgorm Castle from August 6-9.
Before the professionals get down to the serious business of competing for one of the most prestigious events on the European Challenge Tour schedule, there was much fun to be had, albeit in wet conditions when many of Northern Ireland’s celebrities and sporting icons arrived at Galgorm to take part in the Pro-am.
For some it was the chance to get one over on former team-mates; former Ulster Rugby stars Paddy Wallace and Stephen Ferris teed it up, as did former Northern Ireland Internationals David Healy and Keith Gillespie. For others – not naming any names - simply making it off the first tee without hitting a spectator with a wayward shot would be achievement enough. They were also joined by recently crowned US Kids Golf World Champion, 12 year-old Tom McKibben from Newtownabbey.
The stage is now set for the annual €170,000 Northern Ireland Open where the stars of Europe and beyond are ready to take on the pristine championship course at Galgorm and follow in the footsteps of Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, who won last year’s event. Daan Huizing from The Netherlands won the inaugural Northern Ireland Open in 2013.
There will be plenty of local interest too, not least the three elite Irish amateurs competing. They include John-Ross Galbraith, who recently won of the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Portrush. The Whitehead golfer received an invite from the Golfing Union of Ireland (Ulster Branch) alongside fellow Irish international Colm Campbell from Warrenpoint, both also competed in 2014. Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon booked his place after winning Galgorm Castle’s North of Ireland Strokeplay title earlier in the season.
The Northen Ireland Open is a celebration of Irish golf and has something for all the family, including the popular Good Food Festival at the castle, interactive Golf Village, Junior coaching programmes and more. Entry is free and tickets are still available by registering online at www.niopen.co.uk/tickets.