Michael Hoey ditches sports car before Northern Ireland Open Challenge

Michael Hoey
Michael Hoey

Michael Hoey will ditch the Lamborghini to focus on winning the 2014 Northern Ireland Open Challenge at Galgorm Castle.

The five-time tour winner was gifted the use of the £180,000 supercar during the inaugural event in Co Antrim last year. And while he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, Michael will revert to a more conservative mode of transport for the second staging from August 28-31.

NI Open Challenge ambassador Michael Hoey with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster

NI Open Challenge ambassador Michael Hoey with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster

“It was great for the car hire company involved to give me the chance to drive it but it was a bit embarrassing.

“A lovely experience, but everyday was too much. I won’t be doing that again, it was a bit distracting,” said Hoey at Thursday’s official launch of the tournament won last year by rising Dutch star, Daan Huizing.

Hoey missed the cut in 2013 after calling a two-shot penalty on himself when he thought his ball moved in the rough. As tournament ambassador, it wasn’t the finish he envisaged and he is determined to mount a more serious challenge this time around.

“It was a borderline decision to penalise myself but I felt like it was the right thing to do,” added Michael who is yet to miss a cut this season on the European Tour.

“Hopefully this year I will be up there around the top of the leaderboard and then we can see what happens.

“I certainly want to do better than last year and I’m already looking forward to another successful tournament.”

After 22,000 people attended the event in 2013, Galgorm Castle officials are hoping to entice 30,000 this year by turning it into a family occasion.

“Great things are happening with golf in Northern Ireland at the moment and the organisers at Galgorm and this tournament are playing a key role in the overall story,” explained Hoey.

“Last year so many of the players (like European Tour winner Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson) commented on how this was the best Challenge Tour event they had ever played in and I have no doubt this year’s tournament will be even better.”

Organisers have introduced a ’Food Festival’ to ‘savour the culinary delights of the region’.

The gourmet excellence theme will carry through to tournament week where suppliers, exhibitors and live demonstrations will showcase the very best of NI produce within the designated food village at the castle.

A golf village will be another interactive spectacle for all the family with free golf lessons for the kids and sporting challenges for the ‘big kids’ too.

“The return of this high profile tournament is yet another indicator that Northern Ireland’s reputation as a major golf destination is thriving,” said Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster.

“Together with the Irish Open in 2015 and 2017, this tournament will further cement our position as a ‘must play’ destination for golfers.”

Entry to the Northern Ireland Open Challenge and all the activities is free.

All you have to do is visitwww.niopen.co.uk and register to receive your free tickets and be part of Northern Ireland’s very own professional golf tournament.