Amateurs handed chance to shine at Galgorm Castle Challenge Tour event

John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead)

John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead)

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The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI)has nominated four of their elite amateurs to compete in the £140,000 (€170,000) Northern Ireland Open, in association with Maui Jim Sunglasses, to take place at Galgorm Castle Golf Club from August 28-31.

The 2014 Irish Amateur Close champion John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead GC) was selected alongside this year’s East of Ireland winner Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), fellow Irish internationals Cormac Sharvin from Ardglass and local favourite Dermot McElroy from Ballymena.

Taking their place in the 156-player field for the European Challenge Tour event is an excellent opportunity for four of the country’s top amateurs to test themselves against the leading professionals in Europe.

“It is widely acknowledged within golf that crossing the pathway from elite amateur to professional golf is very difficult,” explained Kevin Stevens, General Secretary, GUI Ulster Branch.

“Only a select few exceptional golfers successfully make the transition.

“The GUI (Ulster Branch) recognises that the NI Open provides a unique and, indeed the only opportunity currently in Northern Ireland, for elite amateurs to experience playing in tour conditions.

“The chance for our top players to benchmark their ability against professional golfers on the European Challenge Tour cannot be underestimated.”

McElroy for one knows what to expect after he put in a sterling performance to finish tied ninth on six-under in last year’s inaugural event.

“I am hoping that I can improve on last year’s finish and look forward to enjoying the tournament as much as I did last year,” explained McElroy, who was second in the South African Amateur earlier this year and reached the final stage of Qualifying School at the end of 2013.

Sharvin (21), who studies at Stirling University, is the current British University champion and is also ready for the challenge.

“I am delighted to be part of the prestigious event and look forward to competing against some of the biggest names in the game,” said the 2013 Irish Close champion.

The announcement comes in the same week the four elite amateurs were also named on the 11-man Ireland team ahead of the Home Internationals at Southerndown Golf Club in Wales from August 13-15.

Campbell and Galbraith will make their senior Ireland debuts in Wales.

n Galbraith lost out in a three-way play-off for the prestigious Mullingar Scratch Trophy yesterday.

The Whitehead golfer carded a final round 66 to finish on a three round total of 215 alongside Daniel Holland (Castle) and Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) who birdied the first extra hole to win the title.

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