Michael Hoey gives his backing to new European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke

Sean McNicholl (Managing Director SPHERE Global), Michael Hoey (NI Open Event Ambassador) and Neil Cooke (Regional Manager, Ulster Bank Private Banking NI)
Sean McNicholl (Managing Director SPHERE Global), Michael Hoey (NI Open Event Ambassador) and Neil Cooke (Regional Manager, Ulster Bank Private Banking NI)

Michael Hoey has added his voice to the chorus of approval welcoming Darren Clarke’s appointment as 2016 European Ryder Cup captain.

The 36-year-old, back in the province following a run of five event events on the European Tour, insisted that Darren was, ‘the right person for the job in the US’.

“My caddy has been calling him ‘Mr Captain’ for the last six months,” added Hoey.

“He was only joking around, but we thought he was going to get it.

“They like Darren’s big personality in the US, the whole cigar, having a few Guinness persona.

“The thing is that Darren works much harder than people think. He’s always on the range.”

Hoey will once again fulfil the role of tournament ambassador at this year’s NI Open and he was present on Thursday as Sphere Global and Ulster Bank were unveiled as the new title sponsors for the event which will take place at Galgorm Castle Golf Club from August 6-9.

“It’s great to see Sphere Global and Ulster Bank supporting the event. We all know how difficult it can be to attract sponsors,” added Hoey.

“I won the pro-am last year at Galgorm with Sphere Global’s managing director, Sean McNicholl, and I got him a few tickets for the golf when he was out in Dubai recently,” added Hoey.

“He likes his golf and it takes people like that to make a difference with golf tournaments.

“The tournament itself has been very well received over the last three years. I just need to make the cut this year [he failed to make it through to the weekend in 2013 and 2014]. I’m determined to do that!”

The event has been one of the stand out tournaments on the European Challenge Tour for the last two seasons, breaking records for the number of fans, and this year’s showpiece, which now has a new prime date on the calendar, promises to be even bigger and better.

Neil Cooke, Regional Manager, Private Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with SPHERE Global as joint title sponsors for this year’s NI Open at Galgorm Castle.

“In addition to showcasing Northern Ireland as a leading golfing destination, the range of activities offered during the tournament ensures a welcome and significant boost to the local economy.”

SPHERE Global is a corporation based in Campsie, Co. Londonderry with subsidiaries SPHERE Automation, SPHERE Healthcare and SPHERE Profiles.

“We are proud to sponsor the NI Open which has fast become one of the flagship events in Northern Ireland and on the European Challenge Tour,” said Sean McNicholl, Managing Director SPHERE Global.

“As supporters of the game in Northern Ireland, SPHERE Global is delighted to be involved with the NI Open and look forward to helping make this year’s tournament even bigger and better than before.”

Organisers have once again ensured the action is available to everyone as the NI Open will be free to enter. All the general public have to do is register online at niopen.co.uk to receive their free tickets, available now.

In 2014 over 34,000 spectators came through the gates to witness Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren be crowned champion and pick up the £20,000 (€27,200) winner’s cheque.