Posts Tagged ‘Galgorm Castle’

GolfNow introduces new Junior NI Open

May 29, 2017

Faith, Theo and Noah gearing up for the GolfNow Junior NI Open 2017 at Galgorm Castle Golf Club

GolfNow, the leader in online tee time technology, has renewed their sponsorship of the NI Open for the third year in a row and this year will launch a brand new interactive family event at the tournament.
In conjunction with the NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf, GolfNow will host the Junior NI Open to run alongside the main tournament at the Interactive Zone, where children aged 6–9 and 10–13 can take part in the boys and girls competition.
Families stand to win a brand new set of junior TaylorMade clubs for their children. Alongside this great prize, NI Open hosts Galgorm Castle will provide a junior membership to each lucky winner, while the NI Open’s presenting sponsor, Modest! Golf Management, will also be supporting the Junior NI Open with Modest! Golf prizes.
Andrew Hollywood, Marketing Director at GolfNow, said: “We are committed to growing the game of golf and have developed a fantastic junior tournament in line with the main event. The NI Open has a fun interactive zone at the tournament every year and this time around we have a fun competition that is open to junior golfers and is free to enter.

It was important to create something that the whole family can take part in and make starting out on a golf course a less intimidating place.”

Ross Oliver, NI Open Event Manger, commented: “We are delighted to have GolfNow’s continued support for the NI Open. The introduction of the Junior NI Open by GolfNow is a fantastic addition to the event and augments the message that the NI Open is truly a golf tournament for all the family.”
To take part in the Junior NI Open, simply pop along to the Interactive Zone, enjoy a free lesson from PGA Professionals, pick up your competition card from the GolfNow team and hit the pitch and putt course. The competition will run on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of tournament week (August 10-13) with the winners announced at 2pm on the final day.
Entry to the NI Open is FREE, simply register for your free tickets online at or download the NI Open app.

With thanks to Paul Gallagher

NI Open embraces change and tweaks format to create Shootout Sunday

March 30, 2017

Ryan Fox plays into the 18th on his way to victory at last year’s NI Open (Photo by PressEye)

It’s all change for this year’s NI Open at Galgorm Castle in the shape of a new format and a new presenting sponsor, Modest! Golf.
Now in its fifth year, the NI Open is one of the best-supported events on the Challenge Tour schedule, both in terms of attendances and depth of field.
This year the NI Open has embraced the European Tour’s vision of introducing fresh new ideas and innovation to professional golf with the introduction of Shootout Sunday.
At this year’s event 156 players will tee it up ahead of the traditional 36-hole cut, before a 54-hole cut on Saturday followed by five rounds of six-hole strokeplay matches in what will be a high octane and dramatic #ShootoutSunday.
Note the fact that it is Strokeplay. This tweak sets the event apart from the recent Super 6’s in Perth and ensures that every match will finish on the 18th (see below for full details).
Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey has backed the changes.
“The NI Open comes hot on the heels of the Irish Open and what is being devised here at Galgorm is an exciting new twist which sets it apart from anything we’ve ever had in Northern Ireland,” said Hoey, a five–time European Tour winner, who finished eighth at Galgorm in 2016 behind winner Ryan Fox from New Zealand.

“We have spoken to several players about the change in format, including last year’s winner Ryan, and all agreed that the new format is an extremely exciting new prospect. The NI Open’s unique and innovative strokeplay matches on the Sunday are a first for professional golf and is sure to be a highlight on the global golfing calendar.

Niall Horan and the Modest! team

“The new format is certain to be more entertaining for spectators, especially with holes like the redesigned par three seventh sure to throw up plenty of drama as crowds converge at strategic parts of the course.”
The innovation has also been backed by Mark McDonnell, Director of Modest Golf.
We are delighted to return to the NI Open, this time as Presenting Sponsor. We love working alongside the European Challenge Tour and Galgorm Castle and this year is set to be bigger and better than ever before,” he said.
Fellow Modest! Golf Director Niall Horan commented: “We are excited to be returning to the NI Open and introducing a brand new format. Shootout Sunday will be an exciting concept, both for the players and for spectators.”
The NI Open’s exciting new format offers a new dimension that complements the staging of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart earlier in the holidays.
Interactive and family events will also be on site at Galgorm Castle during the NI Open and one of the province’s sporting highlights will once again have FREE entry for all spectators.

The NI OPEN 2017
Round 1: 156 players begin three rounds of strokeplay
Round 2: 36-hole cut following close of play (Top 60 and ties)
Round 3: 54-hole cut following close of play (Top 24) to include play-off if required
NI Open Shootout Sunday: Five rounds of six-hole strokeplay matches
– The top eight players after 54 holes of strokeplay will receive a bye into the second round of matches and will be seeded.
– The remaining 16 players (positions 9-24) will be randomly paired for the first round matches.
– If there are any ties for 24th position, a sudden-death play-off (18th hole) will determine the qualifiers following the completion of 54 holes.
– The losing quarter-finalists will contest matches to determine positions 5-8 and the losing semi-finalists will contest a match to determine 3-4.
-Any matches level after six holes will be determined by playing the 1st hole (rounds one and two) or a shortened version of the 18th hole (quarter finals, semi-finals and final) as a sudden-death play-off hole.

Gary Wardlow doubles up with victories at Ballycastle GC and St Patrick’s GC

March 1, 2017

Brian McElhinney isn’t the only player capable of racking up multiple wins on the PGA in the North of Ireland circuit.
Spa professional, Gary Wardlow, made it two victories on the bounce by winning the Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance tournament, at St Patrick’s Golf Club, Downpatrick.
The highlight of Gary’s round was a rare eagle two at the par-four 364-yard 16th when he hammered his drive to inside three feet.
He also managed to add five birdies in a five under par 64 that gave him a five shot victory over Damien Mooney and Simon Thornton.

Gary Wardlow

Gary Wardlow

A recent winner at Ballycastle GC, Gary made a strong start, grabbing back-to-back birdies at the second and third. He added another birdie at the sixth, rolling in a five-footer on his way to a mistake free front nine of three under 32.
He reached five under for the day with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th.
His first mistake of the round came at the par four 14th when he found the trees off the tee but repaired all of the damage with his eagle at the 16th. He then found the sand with his approach at the 17th for another dropped shot.
His back nine of two under par 32 saw him home with something to spare over his nearest rivals.
Galgorm Castle player Ciarán Doherty snatched the amateurs’ top nett prize from Laurence Hale (Shandon Park), on the back nine, after they both posted 42 points.
The gross prize was won with 35 points by Clandeboye’s Mark McCrory.
Wardlow climbed to winner’s rostrum for a second time as he led home the winning team, after combining with Spa amateurs Jimmy Kelly and Patrick McCluskey plus Phil McKenna (Whitehead) to card 94 points.

Ping PGA UGA Tournament at St Patrick’s

Selected scores
Professionals:64 (-5) – G Wardlow (Spa).
69 – D Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf), S Thornton (Unattached).
71 – P Farrell (Laganview), P Hanna (Lurgan).
72 – G Graham (Groomsport), V Teague (Loughgall).
Amateurs: Nett, 42 pts – C Doherty 18 (Galgorm Castle)
42 – L Hale 18 (Shandon Pk)
41 – J Burke 12 (Kilymoon).
39 – G Hamill 16 (Shandon Pk).
Gross, 35 pts – M McCrory 6 (Clandeboye).
Team: 94 pts – Pro G Wardlow with Amateurs J Kelly 13, P McCluskey 14 (all Spa) & P McKenna 13 (Whitehead).
With thanks to Tony McGee

Galgorm Castle’s Phil Collins hits all the right notes at Royal Belfast

December 8, 2016

Northern branch chairman, Phil Collins, clicked into top gear at Royal Belfast to win the Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance Tournament.
The Galgorm Castle professional posted a four under par 66 to hold off Chris Carvill (Belvoir Park) by a shot.
Sand trouble at both the first and fourth holes cost Collins two early bogeys but he drove the green at the third for his opening birdie of the day and got down in two putts from 30 feet at the long fifth to wipe out those mistakes.
He collected further birdies at the seventh – where he fired an eight-iron approach into close range – and the eighth to reach the turn in two under par
He dropped another shot at the 11th but then finished strongly with birdies at the 14th, 16th and 18th.
Five-handicapper Declan Laverty (Castlerock) won the top nett prize from Michael Alexander 6 (Galgorm Castle) on countback after both carded 41 points, while JR Galbraith (Whitehead), the recent runner-up in the Argentinian Amateur Open, took the gross award with a 68.
Ballyclare pro Colin Lyttle led home the winning team of Ian Witherspoon 4 (Ballyclare), Henry Eagleson 7 and Jim Hanna 14 (both Ballymena) on 90 points.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance at Royal Belfast

Selected scores
Professionals: 66 (-4) – P Collins (Galgorm Castle).
67 – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
69 – C Lyttle (Ballyclare).
69 – G Chambers (Killymoon), D Mooney (Nevada Bobs Belfast), B McElhinney (North West).
71 – S Donnelly (Castle Hume), P Hanna (Lurgan).
Amateurs: Nett, 41 pts – D Laverty 5 (Castlerock) … 1st;
41 – M Alexander 6 (Galgorm Castle) … 2nd;
39 – D Winning 4 (Greenisland) … 3rd;
39 – L Kennedy 13 (Dunmurry) … 4th;
38 – G Veitch 11 (Castle Hume.
Team: 90 pts – Pro C Lyttle (Ballyclare) with amateurs I Witherspoon 4 (Ballyclare), H Eagleson 7 & J Hanna 14 (both Ballymena).
With thanks to Tony McGee

Day Four recap: Ryan outfoxes the field to win NI Open

August 1, 2016

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Kiwi Ryan Fox equalled the course record at Galgorm Castle as he stormed to victory at the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank.
The 29-year-old, who will represent New Zealand at the Rio Olympics, fired a nine under par 62 to finish on 19 under par, winning by four shots.
“It was a pretty good day. To be honest I played exactly how I played all week but got really hot with the putter,” said Ryan, the son of New Zealand All-Black legend, Grant Fox.
“I played really solid from tee to green the whole week. Today I left myself a lot of makeable putts, it got hot and it was nice to keep seeing the ball going in.
“I thought I was flirting with the magical number for a while, but a three putt on 16 didn’t help that.
“It’s tricky out there. If you drive it in the rough it’s brutal, I found that out a couple of times today. To shoot 62 in the last round and win is pretty awesome. I’m pretty happy.”
Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey played in the same group as Fox but never managed to get close enough to threaten the eventual winner.
“I’m happy to have done something this week. I wasn’t at my best, but I’m happy that I did something in the tournament after missing the cut the last few years and not being able to give anything to the crowds,” said Michael.

I really enjoyed playing with Ryan. He was 10 under after 15, he’s definitely a top 50 in the world player.

That was phenomenal shooting today. I thought six or seven under might be good enough but the standard out here is so high and they can shoot the scores, especially when the greens are so good.”
Hoey finished the event alone in eighth on 13 under par after a final round 68.
It was good fun out there. Most enjoyable time on the course I’ve had all year. Best I’ve played all year. I just have to take this form into the rest of the season,” added Michael who has struggled to find any real consistency on the European Tour this season.
“I felt after a few holes that I had a chance. Missing my drive on nine didn’t help (he could only manage a par to Fox’s birdie) and I lost a bit of momentum and adrenalin over the closing holes when I knew I wasn’t going to win.
“It was good to get a little bit of excitement and the crowds are always fantastic at Galgorm, they are not dissimilar to Irish Open crowds in some ways.”

The German duo of Dominic Foos (65) and Bernd Ritthammer (65), England’s Max Orrin (65) and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli (69) finished in second.
Damien McGrane carded a final round 68 to finish tied for ninth on 11 under with Castledawson’s Chris Selfridge a shot further back on 10 under after a closing 69.
“I played my best golf of the week today, and finished with 16 pars and two birdies. I just kept burning the edge,” said the 24-year-old.
“It was just one of the those days and was a disappointing end to the tournament.
“I really didn’t play that good this week and I putted so well to be where I was this week and then the opposite happened today.
“I hit a great putt on the last and it just burned the edge. It’s so frustrating but it’s another good week I did great on Thursday to shoot even par and progressed from there. I’m disappointed, yes. but at the same time it is a good week.”

Day Three – Ambassador Hoey chasing leader Frittelli at NI Open

July 31, 2016
Dylan Frittelli Picture: Golffile Thos Caffrey

Dylan Frittelli
Picture: Golffile Thos Caffrey

Tournament ambassador, Michael Hoey, is breathing down the leader’s neck heading into Sunday’s final round of the Tayto NI Open in partnership with Ulster Bank.
The five time tour winner trails South African Dylan Frittelli by three shots at Galgorm Castle after carding a third round 68 to end the day on 10 under par.
“I felt like four shots back might have been too much because Dylan was playing well, it’s not far away but five or six under will be needed,” said Hoey.

“I got great support out there. I haven’t had that for a while and not had a noise like that, so that was good. I’m playing steady and driving it pretty good. The greens are so good that I think I’m going to need to hole two or three more putts.”

Hoey was amongst a group of 51 players forced to return to the Co Antrim venue early on Saturday morning to complete their second rounds after play was finally suspended on Friday evening at 9pm.
Challenge Tour officials have been battling to get the tournament back on schedule following a six hour delay on Thursday morning caused by torrential rain.
Frittelli still had a third of his second round to complete and explained that he was more focused on making the cut than making a bid for the title when he got underway on Saturday morning.

“The start of the day was 8am when I had six holes to finish. I didn’t play that great so I did some work on the range and felt a whole lot better,” said the 26-year-old who then went on to card a bogey free six-under par 65 in round three.
“It was a good day, and I had good mental focus. I’m going to try and play the way I played today, if I shoot another six under round, I can’t see anyone coming back and knocking down 19 under par.
“The course has held up really well and the guys have done a great job. The greens were amazing, I thought they’d get a little bumpy but they were pure as ever.”
On 13 under par, Frittelli leads by one from Dutchman Wil Besseling, with defending champion Clement Sordet a shot further back. Hoey is tied for fourth alongside Englishman Sam Hutsby and New Zealander Ryan Fox on 10 under par.
The leading Irish contender is Damien McGrane who is tied for 12th on eight under alongside Castledawson’s Chris Selfridge who moved up the field, carding a mistake free four under par 67.
“I had to finish two holes this morning and birdied them both to finish minus four and make the cut safely,” said Chris.
“I was pleased with that finish. It’s tough when you’re on the line, and to shoot a stress free 67 if good. I’d have liked to have been two or three lower to have a real chance going into tomorrow. When I’m eight under I need other people to help me out.”
The leaders will tee off Sunday in three balls at 11.40am. Michael Hoey is in the second last group out alongside Hutsby and Fox at 11.30am.

Day Two recap – Colm Moriarty thrives on marathon day at NI Open

July 31, 2016
Will Besseling (NED) at the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank at Galgorm Castle Golf Club,  Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Will Besseling (NED) at the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank at Galgorm Castle Golf Club,
Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Colm Moriarty thrived during a marathon day of golf at Galgorm Castle to move into the top 10 at the Tayto NI Open in partnership with Ulster Bank.
The 37-year-old carded a five under par 65 to finish day two alongside Gary Hurley as the leading Irishmen in a truly international field.
At six under par, Colm is three shots behind the leader, Dutchman Wil Besseling, who followed up an opening round 68 with a 65.
“I played quite nicely. Played lovely this afternoon and holed a few putts,” said Colm.

“If you keep it out of the rough I suppose it makes the course playable, if you are in the rough it’s difficult.”

The tournament is still playing catch-up after torrential rain on Thursday led to a six hour delay.
Colm was amongst 78 players who were forced to come back to complete their opening rounds on Friday before filing out again to play round two.
“It’s a long time since I played 30 holes in a day! I had no expectations this week, I just came up to see how I got on,” added Colm who is lodging with Tournament Ambassador, Michael Hoey, this week.
“I am trying to enjoy the week, not do anything different, just approach it as you would a pro-am.”
Besseling, who played in the same group as Colm described himself as ‘exhausted’ but ‘happy’ to be on top of the leaderboard.
“My putting was very good today and that helped me reach this score. I kept it in play and holed a few good putts,” said Wil.
“The course is very good, the greens are firming up now. It’s rolling nicely and it’s not too wet. We place the ball, which makes it a bit easier sometimes but the course is in great condition.
“We had to get up early this morning and finish the first round. Half an hour later we started the second.
“That’s the way it goes and everybody knows that’s the way it is. It’s nice to have played well and be on top of the leaderboard, but the guys who are out there will make some birdies so we’ll see what happens.”

Tournament officials are confident that everything will be back on track by the end of play on Saturday. Those players who don’t manage to complete round two on Friday will wrap things up on Saturday morning before the cut is made and round three gets underway.
One player who won’t be around is 13-year-old Tom McKibbin who followed up an opening round 80 with a highly creditable 76 to miss the cut. The teenager was far from despondent, describing the whole experience as ‘enjoyable’.
The 13-year-old, who received an invite into the tournament courtesy of Niall Horan’s Modest Golf Management company, relished the chance to mix it with the professionals.
“I was two under through seven holes today, made a couple of mistakes, and had a bad finish on the last but apart from that I was happy,” said Tom who ended the tournament on 14 over par.
“I liked the walk up the 18th but didn’t enjoy my golf on the last [he finished with a seven].
“I don’t mind people watching, it feels weird when lots of people clap, but I’m sure I will get used to it.”

Damien McGrane matches young guns on rain delayed day one at NI Open

July 29, 2016
Damien McGrane (IRL) on the 17th tee during Round 1 of the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena Co. Antrim on Thursday 28th July 2016. Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey All photos usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Thos Caffrey)

Damien McGrane (IRL) on the 17th tee during Round 1 of the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank at Galgorm Castle 
Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Damien McGrane proved once again that there is no substitute for experience as he forced his way into the lead at a rain interrupted day one of the Tayto NI Open at Galgorm Castle.
The 45-year-old matched the young guns of the Challenge Tour, carding a mistake free six birdie round of 65 on a course softened by an overnight deluge that forced play to be delayed by six hours.
“I played lovely from start to finish, hit a lot of good tee shots and found the middle of the fairways,” said McGrane who came into the tournament on the back of two recent victories on the PGA in Ireland circuit.
“I was able to be patient and holed a couple coming in to reach six under. It was a stress free round which doesn’t often happen but it happened today.
“I don’t have any expectations. I just want to do well and put on a good show.”
McGrane was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Sam Hutsby, Bernd Ritthammer, Ben Stowm Daniel Gaunt, Dylan Frittelli and another Irish player, Rory McNamara.
Damien added; “I think the course here has some birdie opportunities but you have to hit the fairways to have a chance. Funnily enough, even after all the rain if you hit the middle of the fairway the ball does want to run 20 yards.

“Its very playable, the greens are soft now but they were very, very good for us to putt on because we were out early. We made the best of the conditions it was nice to get off to a good start.”
Play was eventually suspended for the day at 9pm with 26 groups still to finish the first round, amongst them, Dermot McElroy and Cormac Sharvin.
They face a long day on Friday as they will return to wrap up round one at 8am before heading out again to begin their second rounds.
Those players lucky enough to have completed their opening rounds on Thursday will begin their second rounds on Friday afternoon/evening.
Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey was amongst the players to get finished round one yesterday and will have a welcome lie in on Friday morning.
Hoey fired a three under par round of 68 to put himself firmly on track to make the cut at the fourth time of asking.
“I didn’t play great but got it round ok. It’s wasn’t playing that difficult, it’s soft and it’s target golf,” said Michael.

“At least I’m not out of the tournament which I have been by this stage in recent years. Now I can relax and see what I can do over the next few days.”

Michael added; “There was a point there today when I was struggling a bit. I bogeyed the third and made a couple of poor swings but I dug in well, finished strongly, made some good swings and picked up three birdies in a row.
“I could easily have gone the other way if I hadn’t dug in well, that was a big turning point.”
Michael’s three under par total was matched by Whitehead amateur John Ross Galbraith who collected four birdies and dropped only one shot in a strong performance.
“I drove the ball really well today. I think I only missed two fairways,” said John Ross who missed defending his North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush because of a neck injury.
“I was driving it pretty long and straight so I was able to give myself opportunities going into the greens. My iron play wasn’t bang on or I could have gone really, really low today
“I missed a few chances on the greens as well but overall it was decent start.”

Live scoring from Tayto NI Open in partnership with Ulster Bank

NI Open Previews – Dermot McElroy and Gareth Shaw ready for Galgorm Challenge

July 28, 2016
Dermot McElroy

Dermot McElroy

Dermot McElroy is hoping the familiar surroundings of Galgorm Castle can help him make a smooth transition from the amateur to professional ranks this week at the Tayto NI Open.
The 23-year-old from Ballymena is a regular at the Co Antrim venue and actually tied for ninth back in 2013 as a amateur, seven shots behind the winner, Daan Huizing.
“I can’t really pick a better spot for me. I know the course so well,” said Dermot a full Irish international who won the West of Ireland Championship last year.

“It’s really just about finding a bit of form and playing well. I’ve played a couple of practice rounds and I’ve a bit of work to do. Hopefully, I can find some over the next couple of days.

“Driving is going to be key this week. The rough is seriously thick, they’ve somehow managed to get it growing against you and it’s really heavy and wet. You’ll be struggling to reach the green if you get in it.”
Dermot had previously indicated that he was intending to turn professional at the end of the amateur season but when he was offered a chance to play in Galgorm, he thought the time was right to take the plunge.
He added, “I only really had two amateur events left so I said to myself, ‘why not go now?’
“I had the opportunity to play this week and hopefully I’ve a good chance of playing in the Challenge Tour event in Mount Wolseley at the end of September so I just thought there was no point in waiting any longer.”

Gareth Shaw

Gareth Shaw

It’s the nature of modern professional golf that Gareth Shaw is approaching veteran status at the ripe old age of 30!
“I feel that way sometimes. I played with two guys recently and they were 18 and 21 years old,” said the Lurgan golfer who joined the pro ranks in 2008 and has spent most of his career plying his trade on the Challenge Tour.
“When I first turned professional, I thought, ‘if I’m not doing any good by the time I’m 30 I’ll pack it in’ but here I am looking forward to another tournament at Galgorm Castle.
“There are a few guys around my age that have been doing pretty well this year.

“Golf has that longevity. You can make a lot of money in your 40s so you just have to keep going.”

The 2016 season has offered little encouragement in terms of results but Gareth has seen enough signs recently to give him grounds for optimism. It means that he’s looking forward to having another crack at winning the NI Open.
“The start of the year was tough. Everything was six out of 10. I wasn’t playing badly, I was just not playing well,” he added.
“Recently my driving has come on a lot and my putting is has been fantastic over the last couple of weeks. If I can somehow get it all to click, who knows?
“I am excited to play this week. It’s so nice to stay at home, to see familiar faces, get some home support and have a caddy on the bag. It’s small things like that which can make a big difference.”
Gareth finished tied for 42nd last year at Galgorm, a full 13 shot behind the winner, Frenchman Clément Sordet who is returning to defend his title this year.


Can caddy Ryan spark Hoey at NI Open?

July 26, 2016
Hoey Sport NI Tee Off (1)

Michael Hoey in action at Galgorm Castle

Could a friendly face be the key to kick-starting Michael Hoey’s season at this week’s Challenge Tour event in Galgorm Castle?
The five-time tour winner has called on pal Ryan McGuigan – a professional caddy from Castlerock – to take on portering duties at the Tayto NI Open in partnership with Ulster Bank.
“Ryan has worked for Richie Ramsay recently and Danny Willett for a couple of years too. It’s just a one-off but he should be a great help. Like us local guys, he’ll benefit from sleeping in his own bed,” said the Tournament ambassador.
It’s a been a difficult 2016 so far for Michael, who has slipped to 194th in the Race to Dubai rankings, but there has been more encouraging signs of late.
“In terms of swing and practice, I haven’t been doing anything different this season,” added the 37-year-old.

“I’ve been a bit unlucky, travelled too much, I was on the road for 10 weeks at the start of the year and not long after I had sinus surgery.

“It’s quite common to pick up bugs or flu when travelling to so many different places. Really I should have come home for a few weeks, given the likes of Malaysia and Australia a miss. That cost me.”
Now in its fourth year, the NI Open has become one of the standout events on the Challenge Tour. In 2015 the tournament set an all-time attendance record when 39,423 spectators spilled through the gates to see France’s Clément Sordet crowned champion.
This year organisers are confident they can attract in excess of 40,000 spectators for what promises to be a week-long festival of golf.
Hoey will be joined in the field by other Challenge Tour regulars hoping to make home advantage count amongst them Castledawson’s Chris Selfridge who is currently the leading Irish player on the Challenge Tour rankings.
The 24-year-old has already clocked up two top 10 finishes this season in Scotland (T5) and Madrid (T4).
Chris made a big impression at Galgorm last year, carding opening rounds of 68/66 to really put himself into contention before eventually finishing tied for 16th.
“It was brilliant, it was a new experience for me to play in front of such big crowds,” said Chris recently.
“It was a big stage for me, but I will be much better prepared this time around.”
There is still time to register for FREE tickets by logging on to or keeping up to date with all the family activities through the NI Open app, which can be downloaded for iphone and android devices.
The Tayto Northern Ireland Open, in partnership with Ulster Bank, gets underway with the Pro-Am at Galgorm on Wednesday 27th July before the 72-hole tournament starts on Thursday 28th July.