Spa Golf Club to host PGA in the North of Ireland Championship presented by GolfNow

August 23, 2017

(Lt- Right) John Brannigan (Captain Spa GC), Phil Posnett (PGA in the North of Ireland), Gary Wardlow (Professional Spa GC) and Andrew Holywood (Marketing Director, GolfNow)


The PGA in the North of Ireland Championship has found a new home for 2017 – Spa Golf Club – and a new sponsor in the shape of GolfNow.
The tournament is scheduled for October 11th and 12th with Damian Mooney (D Mooney Golf) set to defend the title he won last year at Downpatrick.
Damian will be closely challenged by top professionals such as Simon Thornton (S Thornton Golf), Phil Collins and host club professional Gary Wardlow.
Some of the up and coming professionals, the likes of Chris Carvill (Belvoir) and David Leathem (American Golf) will, of course, be looking to make their mark in the Northern Branch’s flagship event.
The format will be a team four-man pro-am on day one with the professionals carrying their scores forward to the final round on day two, making a 36 hole tournament.
PGA in the North of Ireland Chairman, Ricky Whitford (Knock) said: “We in the PGA in the North of Ireland are delighted to welcome GolfNow to our tournament, we are always grateful for the support of companies who work in golf and it is great to see them putting something back into the game. Good luck to all who play and it will be our pleasure to entertain some of GolfNow’s guests on the pro-am day.

“Many thanks must go to host Professional Gary Wardlow and the Captain, Council and Members of Spa Golf Club for their support. We are looking forward to playing this top class venue.”

Andrew Hollywood, Marketing Director GolfNow noted: “We are delighted to be working with the PGA in the North of Ireland to deliver our first GolfNow sponsored Pro-Am tournament. At GolfNow our main objective is to grow the game of golf and working with the PGA to set up a fun, and challenging, tournament helps us achieve this.
“It’s fantastic to be able to invest in the local game and we hope the tournament will inspire golfers to get out and get active. Spa Golf Club is a great venue and to see some of the best professionals in the country compete will be an inspiration to many a golfer.”
Spa Captain John Brannigan added; “I am delighted to welcome the Professional Golfers Association to Spa Golf Club and wish to thank them for selecting our course for this important and prestigious tournament.
“Spa will provide a great challenge to players who are the cream of our game in this country and I know they in turn will provide a wonderful spectacle over the two days.
“At Spa we believe we have a challenging course and amenities that are second to none. This is a wonderful opportunity for Spa to showcase what we have on offer here in the heart of Co Down.”

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Campbell comes through – again – as Ireland claim record breaking Home International success

August 19, 2017

Ulster members of the victorious record winning Irish Home International Golf team arrive at Dublin Airport. (l-r) John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), John White (Team Manager, Co Armagh) Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) and Colin Fairweather (Knock). Picture by Pat Cashman.

Ireland celebrated another success at the Home Internationals and made history by winning their fourth successive title.
No Irish team has gone this deep before. A tie with England on the final day at Moortown ensured that Tony Goode’s team collected the Raymond Trophy yet again, writing their names in the record books as the first Irish side to retain the title for the third year running.
Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) and Robin Dawson (Tramore) have the distinction of playing on all four winning teams.
Campbell has become Ireland’s anchorman and having delivered the decisive point in 2016, Colm found himself in the same position again.
This time the situation looked bleak. Having lost the first four holes, Campbell went five down at the sixth against Jake Burnage.
“All I was thinking at that stage was making sure not to get a dog licence,” said Campbell. Having clawed back two holes before the turn, there was hope.
In fact, he won three holes on the bounce – 9, 10 and 11 – to turn the match around. By now, things were getting tight for Ireland after a mixed afternoon.
A three-point haul from the foursomes gave Ireland an edge but England battled back in the singles.
Matthew Jordan rescued a half against Paul McBride at the top of the order while Daniel Brown, Will Whiteoak, Josh Hilleard and Bradley Moore put more red on the board.
Conor O’Rourke, Caolan Rafferty and Colin Fairweather secured valuable points for Ireland to keep the four-in-a-row dream alive. When Alex Gleeson halved with Todd Clements, it meant that the outcome of the Campbell’s match would determine everything.
All square playing 17, Campbell knew that his side needed at least a half.
“I hit probably the best shot of my life,” said Campbell, describing his six iron approach from 192 yards.
Three foot from the pin, his birdie was all but secure and when Burnage failed to save par from the bunker, Campbell went ahead.
That meant Ireland could not be beaten. More to the point, it meant that Ireland would be crowned champions.
“It was another special week with the lads,” said Campbell.
“I know it came down to my match but everybody played their part. It really was a great team effort.”

Copy courtesy of GUI

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

Fairweather bounces back from North of Ireland defeat to book place in NI Open

July 19, 2017

Paul Hughes, Captain Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Valerie Penney, Specsavers Ballymena, Colin Fairweather, NI Amateur Open champion 2017 and John Carruthers, Honorary Secretary Galgorm Castle Golf Club

Knock’s Colin Fairweather came out on top of a three-way playoff to win the 36-hole Northern Ireland Amateur Open sponsored by Specsavers Ballymena.
The 26-year-old birdied the first extra hole at Galgorm Castle to beat Thomas Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown) and former winner, Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene GC).
In doing so, the 26-year-old, earned a place in the field alongside the professionals at the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, Presented by Modest! Golf (Aug 10-13).
“I just wanted to win. I wasn’t really thinking about the chance of playing in the NI Open,” said Colin who lost out to Rowan Lester (Hermitage) in the final of the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.
“I didn’t get it last week, but I got that winning feeling again today. It didn’t matter where it was or what tournament it was in. I just wanted to win something, especially after last week when I finished runner-up at Royal Portrush.

“It took me a wee while to get over that so it was great to bounce back so quickly. I’ve always wanted to play in the Challenge Tour event as well, so this win meant an awful lot to me.”

Thomas Mulligan

Colin was leading by one playing the final hole when he lost his ball off the tee. He eventually made a bogey six at the par-five to force his way into the playoff alongside McLarnon and Mulligan.
“It was really tough today, even though the weather was perfect. They have let the rough grow up with the Challenge Tour event in mind,” added Colin.
“I felt I had the advantage on the hole because I was the longest off the tee. I was determined to stay aggressive, you only have one shot at a playoff.”
The trio went back down the 18th and Colin didn’t make the same mistake in sudden death, hitting a long drive down the fairway before firing a seven-iron onto the green to set up a two-putt birdie from 20 feet.
McLarnon missed a five-footer for his birdie, while Mulligan lost a ball off the tee, and though he still managed a par, it was Fairweather who took the spoils.
While Mulligan lost out in the playoff, the 17-year-old had already secured the second NI Open place up for grabs courtesy of Modest! Golf’s invite for the leading under-18 player.
“It’s great, I came here to secure the under-18 invite and massive thanks to Modest! Golf for the opportunity,” said the Leinster player, who also represented GB&I in the Jacques Leglise Trophy in 2016.
“I had a poor second round but am delighted to have earned my place in the NI Open and I can’t wait to play here again in a few weeks.”
Entry to the NI Open is free, simply register online at http://www.niopen.golf.
This year’s event introduces the exciting new Shootout Sunday knockout format, which is sure to provide plenty of drama for the players and spectators.

Rowan Lester finds key to success at North of Ireland Amateur Championship

July 15, 2017

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship sponsored by Cathedral Eye Clinic at Royal Portrush Golf Club with (l-r) David McMullan (Capt. Royal Portrush), Eamonn O’Connor (Chairman GUI Ulster Branch) and Andrew Spence (Cathedral Eye Clinic).
Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) staged a back nine fightback to win the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush on Friday.
Three down after seven and struggling for consistency off the tee, the 21-year-old beat home favourite, Colin Fairweather (Knock) by two holes.
“I knew I was playing good. I knew that if I could keep it solid and not have any bogeys that I would get back,” said Rowan who fired a course record 64 (-7) on the Valley Links during qualifying.
“In match play, three is comfortable. Two or one up is never comfortable. I knew just to hang in there.
“I always like leading. When I go down I normally find it hard but today I knew I was going to come back.
“I didn’t necessarily think I would win but I knew I would get back and make it tight. I just had that feeling.”
A student at Texas Wesleyann University, Rowan found himself out of position off the tee on a number of occasions but superb up and downs on the ninth and 10th, kept him in touch with Fairweather as bad weather closed in around the final.
“Nine and 10 were key. If I had lost those holes it was game over basically,” he added.

“I kept laying up to a number that I like. I did the same on 12, hit a really good shot into seven feet. Winning that hole was big.”

Rowan Lester lines up a putt on the eighth green

Fairweather still led by one at that stage but the momentum was clearly with Lester and he pressed on.
He added; “I got a big half on 14. It’s always a tough shot into the green. I was completely out of position but from there I didn’t miss a shot.
“I said to myself standing on the 15th tee, ‘if I can play the last four in level par I will win’.”
He levelled matters at the 15th with a par to Fairweather’s dropped shot, halved the 16th, won the 17th to go ahead for the first time and wrapped up the match in style with a fine approach to the home green.
A beaten finalist in the 2015 South of Ireland Championship, Fairweather was left to rue a missed opportunity.
“I was playing well at the start and had it going straight off the tee then he got the momentum coming through on the 12th,” said Colin.
“When he won that hole and was able to get on the tee ahead of me he was then able to get into his rhythm which I found hard to cope with.

“I was never really on my A game all week. I battled around all week but I just fell short.”

Colin is waiting for surgery to treat varicose veins and was feeling the effects as the week wore on but refused to blame that for defeat.
“I noticed it at the start of the season and as the summer has worn on it has got more achy,” said the 26-year-old.
“It is such a weird thing to have but I got an injection and I got a stocking on it at the start of the week that took most of the pain away. It’s not an excuse.”

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship match play results