Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

NI Open – Robin flourishes in Sunday Shootout at Galgorm Castle

August 14, 2017

Robin Sciot-Siegrist winner of the 2017 NI Open

The fans were promised thrills and spills and the final day of the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf delivered in style.
Shoot-out Sunday at Galgorm Castle produced tension and excitement with a flurry of eagles, birdies, and a remarkable albatross from Portugal’s Ricardo Santos.
In the end, Frenchman Robin Sciot-Siegrist survived five rounds of six-hole stroke play matches to lift the NI Open trophy.
The 23-year-old, in his first full season on the Challenge Tour, beat Italian Alessandro Tadini by two shots to collect the 28,888 euro first prize.
It’s great. It’s my first full year as a pro so I am so happy because I’ve been working really hard this winter and holding this trophy, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s just pure joy,” he said.
It’s unbelievable how many people are here this week – everything is full, the grandstands, it’s incredible how these crowds come out in Northern Ireland.”
Organisers and sponsors of this year’s event took something of a gamble by opting to ditch the traditional 72-hole stroke play format but it made for a highly entertaining final day, one that was embraced by the vast majority of the players.
Home hope, Cormac Sharvin, bowed out in the opening round, beaten by Santos but not surprisingly, Sciot-Siegrist was something of a convert.
The format is great. Six holes, you have to be really in it from the very beginning, you don’t have a chance to make any mistakes, and it’s great to change the format from what we usually play and I really enjoyed it,” he said.

I played something similar in La Cala in Spain and would like to see more of this type of format. I really like the match play style. I’ve played a lot of this type of golf and enjoy one on one, playing another guy instead of the course. I hope it will happen again in the future.”

Robin with Modest!Golf directors Mark McDonnell and Niall Horan.
Photos by Matt Mackey / Press Eye.

After three rounds of strokeplay, the top 24 made it through to the matchplay stages on Sunday. Having qualified in mid-table, Robin made hard work of coming through yesterday’s early rounds and looked certain to lose out in the final against German Christian Braeunig.
He led by one playing the last hole before his German opponent chipped in for eagle, leaving the eventual winner with a nerve-jangling birdie putt to force an extra hole.
He duly holed it and, on the short play-off hole, put his tee shot to six foot for a birdie putt he would make; Braeunig’s tee shot was even closer but his putt lipped out and Sciot-Siegrist advanced.
He played some of his best golf in the final against Tadini who had beaten Daan Huizing, Matthias Schwab and Bradley Neil to reach the final two.
Sciot-Siegrist had makeable birdie putts on five of the six holes, converting three of them, including on the final hole, for a deserved victory.
I played seven tournaments on the Challenge Tour last year and this is my first full season, so I knew what the level was,” added Robin, whose mother hails from Dublin.
My goal has always been to win and I’m very happy I achieved that. It was obviously a very difficult win but enjoyable.”
Braeunig beat Neil for a career-best finish of third with Nemecz fifth, Ross Kellett sixth, Schwab seventh and Ricardo Santos – who came from behind in his second round match to win courtesy of an outrageous albatross on the final hole – completing the top eight.

NI Open – Cormac Sharvin carries home hopes into Shootout Sunday

August 13, 2017

 

Matthias Schwab

The stage is set for an action-packed final day at the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf.
Following three rounds of stroke play and two cuts, the field of 156 has been reduced to 24 players for today’s Shootout Sunday.
In this new format, competitors will engage in a series of head-to-head knock-out stroke play matches, with the player with the lowest total score over six holes progressing through the rounds.
A special shootout hole, a shortened version of the 18th, will be used should a playoff be required after any of the games.
Cormac Sharvin will carry home hopes into Sunday after booking his place in today’s finale with a fine five-under-par 66 that saw him move up 21 places on the leaderboard.
The Ardglass golfer will meet Portugal’s Ricardo Santos in round one this morning for the chance to face Chile’s Nico Geyger.
“I know Ricardo very well – I played a lot of Algarve golf with him in the winter,” said Cormac.
“He’s a really nice guy and he is obviously very experienced – he has played a lot of years on the European Tour.

“It will be a tough game but I think, If I can keep playing the way that I am playing – if I play well for six holes – I think I can beat him.”

Cormac was the only Irish golfer to make the third round cut which fell at five under par. Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey carded a third round one under par 70 to miss out as did Damien McGrane, Simon Thornton, Kevin Phelan and Neil O’Briain.
The 24-year-old Sharvin was weighing up his tactics ahead of his opening tee-shot today at 8.30am.
“It’s hard to know with this format. All you can do is play well and hope that it’s good enough,” he added.
“You are essentially playing your opponent but it is stroke play as well. It’s a weird format but obviously, if you are two or three shots ahead playing the last you will play it as a three-shotter.
“The beauty of this format is that you can shoot four over for six holes and still potentially make it through.
“All you can do is take it one shot at a time. You have to play smart because six holes isn’t very much so you have to take your chances.”
Sharvin at least had the luxury of booking his place in today’s field with some room to spare. A five-man playoff for the final two spots was required to determine the top 24
Austrian Matthias Schwab topped the three round leaderboard on 11 under par but Wil Besseling, Steven Brown, Julian Kunzenbacher, Max Orrin and Manuel Trappel all tied on five under par after 54 holes and had to go down the 18th again.
Orrin’s birdie on the first extra hole took him into Shootout Sunday, with Brown dropping out with a bogey; the other three all parred before Trappel birdied at the second time of asking and took the final place in the top 24.

 

NI Open Day two – Murray and Kellett lead way

August 12, 2017

Tom Murray

One cut down, another one to come at this year’s Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf.
After two days of jockeying for position, the tournament steps up a notch on Saturday with players bidding to finish inside the top 24 and earn a place in Shootout Sunday.
The two-round cut fell at level par on Friday with the magic mark to reach Shootout Sunday hovering around three under.
Ardglass golfer Cormac Sharvin, who finished the day on two under par alongside Irish players Damien McGrane, Simon Thornton and Neil O’Briain was considering a more aggressive approach on Saturday.
“I’m in a pretty good position to get into the last 24. I need one more good round tomorrow,” said Cormac.

“The second cut is around four under at the minute so it’s probably going to go to six.I probably need three or four under par at least tomorrow but you can’t get too aggressive around here.

“I need to be smart, take on flags when they are there but stay away from some tee shots when there is a bit of trouble around.”
Englishman Tom Murray and Scotland’s Ross Kellett lead the way on eight under par, with Austrian Lukas Nemecz a shot further back.
Murray knows how to win on Irish soil, his sole Challenge Tour victory to date came two years ago at the Irish Challenge in Co Carlow, and he is looking forward to the weekend’s contest.
“I don’t know what it is about Ireland but whether it’s south of the border or here up north, it seems to bring out the best in me,” said the 27-year-old.
“The course set up here is probably the best of the year and it feels like a European Tour event, so that helps boost everything, and everything around the event is so good. I’m playing well and putting well, the greens are perfect, so it’s so far so good.
“I was talking to Dominic Foos today on the course about the Shootout Sunday and we were saying how it’s hard, because at the moment it’s just playing like a normal tournament, so we don’t know what to expect really.

“You’ve just got to approach tomorrow how you normally would and go and try to win the tournament, all the boring stuff, shot by shot, then see where we are come Sunday and see what happens.”her back on seven under.”

A total of 73 players made it through to Saturday’s third round with just eight shots separating first from last. Amongst them was tournament ambassador Michael Hoey who had fully expected to miss the cut after following his opening round 69 with a 72 to finish on one under par.
“My game is not far away but it’s just not quite there. It was the same yesterday. I just left a few shots out there,” said Michael.
“The swing is good but I’m just not dialled in enough.”
Play gets underway this morning at 8.30am with the leaders going out at 10.30am.
In the event of a tie for 24th, a sudden death play-off will take place before a draw tomorrow evening to decide the match-play pairings.

New format never far from players’ minds at NI Open

August 11, 2017

Gary King (ENG) on the 11th tee during Round 1 of the NI Open
Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey


There’s a long held maxim in golf that you can’t win a tournament on the opening day but you can shoot yourself out of contention.
That dictum may never be more relevant than this week at the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf.
The tournament has embraced a new format and it is forcing players to assess their position less in terms of leading and more in terms of remaining inside the top 24.
At the end of round one three players – Nick McCarthy, Ricardo Santos and Gary King led the way on five under par but the important score was three under par. It marked that all important potential cut-off point to reach Shootout Sunday.
“I’m very happy to start with a five under round on a golf course like that, which is playing really tough – certainly this year it’s tougher than I’ve ever seen it in the past few years,” said leader King.
“I’m trying to approach the tournament the same as any week. I’ll treat it as a three round stroke play event and then take it from there on Sunday, but the aim is to win the three days and then go again on Sunday.”
This year’s tournament will see a 36-hole cut following the close of play today to the top 60 players and ties. That will be followed on Saturday by another cut with the top 24 players making it through to Shootout Sunday, where five rounds of six-hole stroke play matches will decide the winner.

Daan Huizing
“In the end, it’s only about making the top 24
“If you are down the field, it doesn’t change anything because you have to get up
“A lot more guys are going to be charging on Saturday to make sure they are in the space for Sunday
“It is definitely different if you are leading big after three days because you are pretty much starting all over again.”

Gary Hurley
“I haven’t read too much into it.
“I didn’t play in the Spanish event that had something similar.
“I don’t really know what the format is to be honest. I’m just focused on making sure I’m in the mix for top 24 on Saturday – It’s anyone’s game then.

Horan and Modest!Golf determined to make positive impact on golfing landscape

August 8, 2017

Niall Horan at Galgorm Castle last year

Niall Horan might sing about “Slow Hands” but there will be nothing pedestrian when the action gets underway at this week’s Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest!Golf at Galgorm Castle.
The team at Modest! have shaken things up for this year’s showpiece tournament on the international schedule with the eagerly anticipated Shootout Sunday element introduced for the first time.
It’s a brand-new format for the final day where the last remaining players will come down the stretch competing in a knockout format in front of large crowds rather than the traditional four rounds of strokeplay.
“We wanted to put a little twist on it, maybe modernise the format a bit. Golf can be perceived as a little slow and we wanted to speed things up, add more excitement,” said Horan, at this week’s announcement of their fourth player signing, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez from Spain, to the boutique management company.

“The format forces games to play six holes and make it down the 18th and build the atmosphere with a stadium finish. It also helps speed up play and gets people interested that perhaps don’t play golf.”

Introducing new people to the game and nurturing new talent is everything the Modest! team stand for. It’s one of the reasons they elevated their commitment to the NI Open this year to become the presenting sponsor alongside main title sponsor, Galgorm Resort & Spa, who have supported tournament golf at Galgorm Castle from the outset.
“This is the closest thing to a European Tour event these boys will play in. The reaction from the players has been great. You could see the smiles on their faces when we explained the new format,” added Horan.

Before the action begins in earnest on Thursday, the small matter of the Ambassadors Shootout (Tuesday) and the NI Open Pro-am (Wednesday) is the focus with stars from the sporting and entertainment world taking to the course alongside Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey.
“Each year we have grown this great event to become even bigger and better than before. In 2017, we now have legends such as Pat Jennings and Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill plus star names like Stephen Ferris and David Healy joining us to have some fun and promote the best attended event on the European Challenge Tour schedule,” said Hoey, a five-time European Tour winner.
“I welcome the many great names who have thrown their name in the hat and will support this year’s NI Open. GAA is represented by Oisin McConville, snooker’s Mark Allen, motorsport’s William Dunlop and athletics star Michael McKillop are among the new NI Open ambassadors.”

Copy provided by Paul Gallagher courtesy of Galgorm Castle

Northern Ireland manager, Michael O’Neill, to play in NI Open Pro-Am

August 2, 2017

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is the latest high profile signing who will tee it up in next week’s Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open Pro-am, presented by Modest! Golf.
O’Neill joins a host of star names from Northern Ireland’s sport and entertainment world for a day of fun next Wednesday at Galgorm Castle that serves as the curtain-raiser to the four-day tournament to get under way from August 10-13.
This year the NI Open Pro-am has attracted a stellar line-up of household names who all joined the Ambassador Club to help promote the event alongside long-time Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey.
O’Neill is a keen golfer when not on Northern Ireland duty and this is the first time the manager will play in the NI Open Pro-am. Most of the celebrities will tee off just after midday so make sure to get to Galgorm in plenty of time. O’Neill will be joined by the likes of Michael McKillop, who recently won another middle-distance double at the World Para-athletic Championships in London.
McKillop (27) won the T37 1500m final to add to his T38 800m title to retain the two titles he won at the 2015 championships in Doha. The Glengormley athlete has totally dominated is discipline for over a decade. Next week he will face up to a new challenge on the fairways at Galgorm Castle.
Other star names to look out for include former Northern Ireland heroes David Healy and legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings and snooker’s Mark Allen. Former Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions forward Stephen Ferris and Gaelic’s former Armagh and All-Ireland Oisin McConville will also be in action at Galgorm.

Michael McKillop

Modest! Golf will be at Galgorm during tournament week with directors Niall Horan and Mark McDonnell ready to present the trophy to the NI Open winner and the lucky winners of the Junior NI Open on the 18th green in front of the grandstands after the final day Shootout Sunday.
“We say it every time but the NI Open gets better and better each year and 2017 promises to be the best yet, especially with so much to see and do for all the family,” said Hoey, a five-time European Tour winner, who finished eighth in last year’s event behind winner Ryan Fox from New Zealand.

“One of the big talking points for this year’s event is the new Shootout Sunday format where the top 24 players will battle it out in a series of high drama, six-hole matches on the final day. This will give spectators a great opportunity to see the players up close and from the grandstands around the 18th green.”

The NI Open Pro-am is another excellent day for watching some of the best players in Europe compete alongside their celebrities and team of amateurs.
The NI Open is a week-long festival of golf for all the family and entry is FREE, simply register for your tickets online at http://www.niopen.golf

Rafferty stays on course to claim North of Ireland title

July 13, 2017


Leading qualifier, Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk GC), eased into the last 16 of the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush yesterday (Wednesday).
The 24-year-old beat John McCarthy (Stackstown) 3&2 and then Dwayne Mallon (Dungannon) 6&4 to set up a meeting with Ross Dutton (Tandragee GC) this morning (Thursday).
Rafferty wasn’t particularly happy with his play in beating McCarthy yesterday morning but composed himself to take care of Mallon in the afternoon.
“I made a good start and was three up after nine. I was pretty steady, did nothing too fantastic,” he said.
“I was brutal in the morning match but I didn’t think about it this afternoon. That is something I am trying to get better at. That’s the thing about match-play, everything is up for grabs on the first tee.”
Irish international Colin Fairweather (Knock) will face Belvoir Park’s Gareth Lappin this morning in the only all-Ulster clash of the last 16.
Lappin, a student at Michigan State University, was relatively untroubled in seeing off Englishman Henry Young-Alls yesterday afternoon by 4&3. Two up after nine, Gareth halved the 10th, 11th and 12th before birdies at the 13th and 14th set up the win with a par on 15.
“The form is alright considering I’ve played very little,” said the 22-year-old.

“I played in the East of Ireland and the Interprovincials for Ulster. I think this is the furthest I have got in this event. I’ve been knocked out in the second round a couple of times.”

Fairweather, meanwhile, just about managed to beat England’s Alex Fitzpatrick to set up the clash with Lappin.Trailing by two holes at the turn, he edged ahead for the first time on 16th courtesy of a 30 foot birdie putt and hung on to win one-up.
“That putt on the 16th was the turning point. I have been a bit up and down this season,” said the 26-year-old who is nursing a knee problem.
“I had a good result at the Brabazon Trophy and made the cut at both the Spanish Amateur and the Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down.”
Late in the day, home favourite, Tyrone Clarke, was beaten 2&1 by Rowan Lester (Hermitage).

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship scoring

DDF Irish Open champion Jon Rahm eyes up major breakthrough at Birkdale

July 11, 2017

Jon Rahm celebrates DDF Irish Open success

Jon Rahm won the DDF Irish Open at a canter on Sunday.
Honestly, rules controversies aside, it was men against boys stuff at Portstewart.
“I’ve never played my best golf. To actually play my best golf that I can remember till this day and shoot 24-under on this golf course and win it by six, man, that is not something I would have believed I was capable of,” said Rahm
“I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of, and it’s a really, really special day.”
The new world number eight is still just 22-years-old. That’s the same age as Gavin Moynihan, who played out of his skin on Sunday, compiling a final round 64 to finish tied for 14th and earn the biggest pay cheque of his career.
In comparison, Rahm is already at the stage when he doesn’t need to worry about money. He has already topped the €2.5m euro mark on the European Tour alone. It’s major titles he wants now.
“I said at the beginning of the week, even before the tournament started, that I haven’t played — again, I haven’t played my best golf on links golf courses,” he added.
“There was always something else. And to play the way I did here, it proves to me I can perform properly on a links golf course.
“And that’s what I’ve got to take to The Open. I know now that I have what it takes. Before that, there was a little bit of doubt in my mind but now I know that I have what it takes to win a tournament on a links golf course.
“The Open Championship, it’s a little different deal just because a major championship will be set up probably harder than this week was. But nevertheless, I know I can read the putts right, and I know I can interpret the wind and I can hit the shots and I can manage myself around the golf course properly enough to have a chance to win The Open.
“Will that happen? I don’t know. But I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed this week.”

Beefed-up Glashedy Links primed for 2018 Irish Open challenge

July 9, 2017

The Glashedy Links

Beefed up Ballyliffin GC will welcome golf’s heavy-weights when the Irish Open heads to the Inishowen peninsula next year (July 5-8).
Ballyliffin Golf Club consists of two contrasting links courses, the Glashedy Links and the Old Course.
The Glashedy Links – where the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be played – opened in 1995 and was designed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock.
In preparation for hosting the event, Ruddy has made a number of significant changes over the winter.

Hole 1 – A fairway bunker has been installed on the left-hand side of the fairway at 300 yards.

Hole 2 – A new tee has significantly increased the dog-leg on this hole.

Hole 3 – A new fairway bunker has been added at 305 yards.

Hole 4 – A new elevated tee has been built, 115 yards further back from the existing tee-box which extends the length of the hole to 590 yards.

John Farren, General Manager at Ballyliffin Golf Club, said: “Ballyliffin is delighted to have been selected as the host venue for the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, especially now that it is part of the Rolex Series.
“This is an incredible vote of confidence by the European Tour and their partners and will be a huge opportunity for us to showcase Ballyliffin, Donegal and Derry on the world stage.
“We look forward to working with Fáilte Ireland and agencies on both sides of the border in promoting the region. Ballyliffin’s close neighbours and destination partners –Royal Portrush and Portstewart – have both hosted tremendously successful Irish Opens and we look forward with confidence to continuing that focus on the world class links of the North Coast of Ireland.

“At 7,423 yards, our Championship Links has staged many top class amateur and professional events in the past and hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2018 fulfils a long term ambition of Ballyliffin Golf Club to take our place on the world stage. We look forward to welcoming the European Tour and their partners to Ballyliffin in July 2018 and can assure you we will deliver an exceptional tournament.”

A regular championship venue, Ballyliffin Golf Club played host to the North West of Ireland Open in 2002, a dual-ranking event on the European Tour and Challenge Tour which was won by Sweden’s Adam Mednick.
The European Senior Tour also visited in 2008 when Spain’s Juan Quirós pipped local hero Des Smyth to the Irish Seniors Open title by a single shot.

Irish Open Day Two – NI Open champ Fox at home in Portstewart

July 8, 2017


While our ‘locals’ appear to suffer in the spotlight, some people seem to thrive in Northern Ireland conditions.
Ryan Fox fits into that category. The New Zealander, a winner of last year’s NI Open at Galgorm Castle finished day two at Portstewart in a share of fourth after a second round 66.
“NI has been very good to be me so far,” said the 30-year-old from Auckland.
“I really like both courses. Galgorm Castle last year was fantastic and I think this is even better.
“I guess when you have a golf course you like and it suits your eye you can shoot some good numbers and I have taken advantage of it this week.”
Fox opened the tournament with a five-under par 67 on Thursday and a run of four birdies in his opening nine holes gave him some early momentum.
A bogey at the first, his 10th hole of the day, failed to stall him and he went on to collect three more birdies.
“I have struggled with putting for most of the year and I guess I found the greens pretty easy to read,” added Ryan.

“I think I holed three or four over 30 foot in the first two days and most of my putts inside ten foot and that helps a lot. Obviously there’s been some good shots in there, as well.”

Ryan Fox, winner of the 2016 NI Open. 

As a reward, Ryan earned a late tee time on Saturday and will play alongside Jon Rahm at 1.20pm giving him plenty of time to watch the Lions clash with the All-Blacks.
He has a special interest in the outcome as his father, Grant, a former All-Black outhalf and is currently a selector for the World Champions.
He added; “Yeah, I’m very happy I get to watch it. I missed out on the last half an hour last week and didn’t see any of the first Test.
“I think the Lions might have poked the bear a little bit. The All Blacks are generally pretty good about fronting up after they have been beaten and Eden Park is their fortress.
“I’m hoping for an All Blacks win tomorrow. I might be the only one hoping that but I’ll be wearing my All Blacks jersey for sure.”