A field of 136 players will compete in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open qualifier at Moyvalley Hotel Golf Resort in Co. Kildare on Saturday and Sunday.
European Tour regular Michael Hoey is included in the field, with a first prize of 6,000 Euros up for grabs and four starting places in the 7M Eurros Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club (July 4-7).
The leading figures on the PGA in Ireland circuit, including Colm Moriarty (Glasson Hotel & Golf Club), Michael McGeady (Evolve Golf Coaching), Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC) and Neil O’Briain (Old Conna GC) will be in action alongside reigning Irish PGA champion, Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort).
“It’s an important part of the year, The Irish Open is such a massive tournament now. It would be great to get a chance to play in Lahinch,” said Moriarty, who will take some positive form to Moyvalley after winning the recent Slieve Russell Masters Pro-Am by eight shots.
“I was actually down there [at Lahinch] a few weeks ago and it will be a fantastic event. I have played a lot of golf there over the years and I have had a good bit of success there [he won the 2003 South of Ireland Championship]. It is always a course I have enjoyed playing.”
In last year’s inaugural DDF Irish Open qualifier, held at Rosapenna GC, Thornton edged out Neil O’Briain for first place after a play-off.
Moriarty claimed third on his own, while Monkstown’s Cian McNamara secured the fourth and final Irish Open spot on offer, beating Kevin Phelan in a play-off.
Thornton went on to make the cut at Ballyliffin with rounds of 72/70. He followed up with weekend rounds of 74/74 to finish the tournament in a share of 59th place.
Also in the field for the 36-hole battle are six amateurs selected by the GUI and 12 professionals nominated by the European Tour.
The GUI have nominated a talented group of amateurs to compete including Rob Brazill (Naas GC), the 2018 West of Ireland Champion, Eoin Leonard (Killiney GC), Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little), Robert Moran (Castle), Matthew McClean (Malone GC) and the 2018 Irish Close champion. Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan GC).
A number of Challenge Tour, Europro Tour and Alps Tour regulars are also scheduled to play, the most notable of which is five-time tour winner, Michael Hoey.
The former Dunhill Links champion has accepted an European Tour invitation along with Paul McBride, Conor O’Rourke, John Ross Galbraith, Dermot McElroy, Stuart Grehan, Jonathan Caldwell, David Carey, Rory McNamara, Brian Casey, Brendan McCarroll and Jonathan Yates.
Moyvalley will be a very familiar venue for most of the PGA professional in the field.
The Kildare venue played host to the Irish PGA Championship in 2016 when Damien McGrane triumphed and then again in 2017 when Tim Rice went wire-to-wire to collect the trophy.
In the case of a tie for the leading four players a sudden death play-off will be used.