Challenge Tour Returns to Northern Ireland
The European Challenge Tour will return to Northern Irish shores
for the first time in ten years when Galgorm Castle Golf Club,
Ballymena hosts the Northern Ireland Open Challenge from August 29
Michael Hoey, a four-time winner on The European Tour, will
headline the field at the Ballymena venue, hoping to add to his
trophy haul, having also won three times on the Challenge Tour.
Hoey has since played a part in Northern Ireland's incredible
story in world golf alongside current World Number One Rory
McIlroy, 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke and 2010 US Open Champion
Graeme McDowell, while the staging of the Irish Open at Royal
Portrush Golf Club in 2012 proved an unprecedented success.
The €170,000 Northern Ireland Open Challenge presents an
opportunity for the next generation to follow in the footsteps of
those superstars and begin their path to The European Tour.
It is the first time Galgorm Castle, one of the country's premier
parkland courses set in the spectacular surrounds of an historical
estate, will host a Challenge Tour event.
Gary Henry, General Manager of Galgorm Castle, said: "We are
expecting big crowds at Galgorm Castle to see some of Europe's top
young players and some of the more established names as well as
some top quality home grown talent. "The excitement is already
building ahead of the tournament and, with the support of the
people of Northern Ireland, we plan to make this one of the most
exhilarating events on the Challenge Tour's international
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: "We are
delighted to bring the Challenge Tour back to Northern Ireland, a
country which has experienced such great success on the world
golfing stage recently and which produced record crowds at last
year's Irish Open.
"Galgorm Castle provides a superb venue which is fitting of a
tournament of this stature and we are sure that in the coming years
this will grow to become one of the premier events on the Challenge
Tour schedule, creating more and more opportunities for talented
young golfers throughout Ireland. "We must thank everyone at
Galgorm Castle for their commitment, enthusiasm and determination
in making this tournament happen."
Hoey, whose biggest win came at the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links
Championship, said: "I am deeply honoured to be the ambassador for
the new Challenge Tour event at Galgorm Castle. "The Challenge Tour
was a hugely important part of my early career and has helped me
develop into the player I am today. By hosting an event in Northern
Ireland, Galgorm Castle Golf Club is contributing to the
development of the next generation of Irish golfers and I am
delighted to be able to play a part in the tournament."
Hoey claimed a top 15 finish the last time Northern Ireland hosted
a Challenge Tour event in 2003, when Clarke emerged victorious
three weeks after his famous victory at the WGC - Bridgestone
Invitational, while another Open Champion - the winner at St
Andrews in 2010, Louis Oosthuizen - finished tied 12th.
More information can be found at www.niopen.co.uk