Chris Carvill (Belvoir Park GC) and Gary Wardlow (QUB) overcame high winds and a strong field at Knock Golf Club to earn their spots in the 2015 Northern Ireland Open in association with SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank.
Carvill was the only player to break par in very windy conditions on the pristine East Belfast layout.
Carvill’s 69 was three shots clear of a trio of 72s; Gary Wardlow (QUB), Chris Carroll (Shandon Park) and Damian Mooney (Ballyliffin) who finished tied for second place and entered a sudden-death playoff to secure the second qualifying spot.
After all three players drove within close proximity of the first green the advantage appeared to be with Carroll, who pitched to within 1o feet of the hole, whilst Mooney and Wardlow’s birdie attempts would come from 15 and 18 feet respectively.
Wardlow duly holed his putt for birdie and with Mooney and Carroll both narrowly missing, Wardlow had secured his spot for the NI Open.
The NI Open has captured the imagination in recent years with record crowds attending Galgorm to see the likes of Michael Hoey, Tournament Ambassador and five-time European Tour winner, and other household names in action.
“We are fortunate the NI Open holds a key date on the international schedule and will be looking to attract the game’s top players to Ballymena at the start of August for what promises to be another festival of tournament golf right here in Northern Ireland,” explains Gary Henry, Managing Director Galgorm Castle Estates and NI Open Tournament Director.
Next week, Redditch GC in England will host the second Professionals’ pre-qualifier when over 60 players will battle it out to earn two places available for the NI Open.
In addition, amateurs will also get their chance to qualify for the NI Open through the annual North of Ireland Amateur Strokeplay played at Galgorm Castle.
The 36-hole strokeplay event will take place on Tuesday, June 9th with the winner to receive an invite to the NI Open.
Entry for the North of Ireland Strokeplay Tournament is £25 (€30) and the closing date is Monday, May 25th, entry forms are available via www.niopen.co.uk/news
* Clandeboye shocked the fancied teams to win the Ulster District Senior Cup yesterday.
The Co Down club, made the most of home advantage to beat Shandon Park 4-1 in the final.
Caroline Adams recorded a 7 & 6 win over Diane Nickels, to give Clandeboye an early lead, which was immediately followed by Brooke Hopley’s 6 & 5 victory over Shandon Park’s Jacqui Young.
Jessica Ross sealed the victory for Clandeboye on 17th green winning by 3 & 1.