Michael Hoey encouraged by positive response to NI Open

Clement Sordet who won the 2015 NI Open at Galgorm Castle
Clement Sordet who won the 2015 NI Open at Galgorm Castle

The cream of the European Challenge Tour will again descend on Galgorm Castle, in Ballymena, from July 28-31 to compete in the Northern Ireland Open, which promises to be a week-long festival of golf and fun-filled activities for all the family.

For a fourth consecutive year, one of the Challenge Tour’s most popular events will attract fans from across the country to witness the golfing stars of the future in action.

Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey expects a top class field to assemble at the venue.

Hoey has been speaking to his peers, many of whom have already pencilled-in Galgorm on their schedule.

“The NI Open will attract an even stronger field than in previous years, especially with such a good place on the schedule,” said the five-time European Tour winner.

“Players want to compete at Galgorm because they know the atmosphere and setup makes it one of the best stop-offs of the season.

“The course and greens are always excellent and it’s a really well run tournament.”

From a home perspective the NI Open does much good for young aspiring professionals looking to make their mark and many of the ‘Famous Five’ Irish Walker Cup players from 2015, including Cormac Sharvin, are set to compete at Galgorm.

This combined with the experienced campaigners like Hoey, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Simon Thornton and others will give the field real strength in depth.

The NI Open is a truly homegrown event and remains Northern Ireland’s established annual international golf tournament.

Thanks to ongoing support from Ulster Bank, who has supported all the professional events at Galgorm over the years, organisers are confident they can attract in excess of 40,000 spectators and build on the Challenge Tour’s all-time attendance record of 39,020 set in 2015 when France’s Clément Sordet was crowned the NI Open champion.

Terry Robb, Ulster Bank Regional Manager Private Banking NI, said: “At Ulster Bank, we’re very pleased to once again be centrally involved in the NI Open, a fantastic opportunity to profile great golfing talent and provide exposure for Northern Ireland on a global scale.”

The economic benefits of staging the NI Open are significant as a potential worldwide viewing audience of 500 million worldwide will not only showcase the event but also reinforce the Northern Ireland brand as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell said: “The Northern Ireland Open will once again be one of the sporting highlights of 2016.

“As golf grows in popularity and our local golfers continue to make their mark on the world stage, I am sure this event will once again provide a showcase of sporting excellence.”

Galgorm Castle’s Christopher Brooke acknowledged the wide range of sponsors, many of whom have partnered the NI Open for years. Organisers also welcomed the new sponsors and partners to the NI Open and over the coming weeks further details will be announced.

“The success of the NI Open is undoubtedly the sum of its parts, a huge collaborative effort goes on behind the scenes,” said Brooke.

“We are grateful for all the support, especially from Ulster Bank, Tourism NI, Sport NI, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, GUI Ulster Branch and Tourism Ireland who help make the NI Open one of the standout tournaments on the European Challenge Tour.”

The NI Open remains free to enter and tickets can be secured by registering online at the brand new website niopen.golf.