Northern Ireland Open Challenge ‘ambassador’ Michael Hoey made a surprise visit to Galgorm Castle Golf Course to chalk up some practice ahead of upcoming competitions – the International Final Qualifier for the Open at Sunningdale and the Irish Open. Michael also helped launch Ulster Bank’s partnership with the NI Open event which takes place at Galgorm Castle from August 29 – September 1st as part of the 2013 European Challenge Tour.
Multiple European and Challenge Tour Winner Michael Hoey will headline the starting line-up for the tournament held in Northern Ireland for the first time in over ten years.
Hoey will tee up alongside an impressive line-up including 2005 Smurfit European Open champion and former USPGA Tour player Kenneth Ferrie, 2011 Czech Open winner and Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson and three time European Tour winner Nick Dougherty.
Ulster Bank has continued to support GalgormCastle’s professional golf tournaments; backing the PGS EuroPro tournaments in 2011 and 2012 at GalgormCastle and it was the success of these competitions which enabled the eminent Ballymena based golf club to move up a notch and secure a European Challenge Tour event.
Paying tribute to Ulster Bank’s sponsorship support for the third successive year, Gary Henry, General Manager of GalgormCastle said, “We are delighted that Ulster Bank has again become a partner in hosting major international golf events at GalgormCastle. These events continue to showcase Northern Ireland as a top golfing destination.
“Ulster Bank has shared our vision of hosting international golf events on an annual basis providing opportunities for up and coming stars as well as the more well-known players to re-establish themselves.
“The event will also create the opportunity for the Northern Ireland public to enjoy world class golf on their doorstep. We appreciate Ulster Bank’s continued support in helping to make this all possible.”
More than 30,000 spectators are expected at GalgormCastle to witness a battle royal around the picturesque 220-acre parkland venue. The event forms part of the Challenge Tour’s international schedule offering up a prize pot of €170,000.
Michael Hoey said, “I am delighted to be able to help Galgorm Castle Golf Club promote this year’s NI Challenge Open. Challenge Tour was an important part of my earlier career and helped me develop my golfing skills in an internationally competitive environment. I was fortunate to play in the last Challenge Tour event held in Northern Ireland about 10 years ago and am very much looking forward to this year’s event. I am delighted that local companies such as Ulster Bank have supported the club and made the whole event possible. Hopefully we get some more of the lovely weather the Provence enjoyed over the last few weeks for the event and that everyone comes out to support the players.”
Neil Cooke, Regional Manager, Ulster Bank Private Banking said, “At Ulster Bank we’re very pleased to have played our part in helping GalgormCastle grow its professional tournament stature to the next level and host a PGA European Tour managed ‘Challenge Tour’ event. Following in the footsteps of last year’s highly successful Irish Open at Royal Portrush, the NI Open Challenge will attract high calibre players and in turn encourage more spectators from many parts of the world to visit Northern Ireland, further boosting the local economy. The competition also offers a tremendous opportunity for emerging talent to play alongside more established players.
“In addition to its sponsorship of professional golf tournaments at Galgorm since 2011, Ulster Bank’s Private Banking division has also given support to many local golfers who have gone on to achieve huge success on a global platform.”
A range of pre-qualifying competitions were recently announced including a Strokeplay event at Galgorm Castle on 12th August and the winner of the annual North of Ireland Amateur Open Strokeplay (15-16th July) also at Galgorm will be invited to tee off at the Challenge Tour event alongside the professionals.
NI Open Challenge www.niopen.co.uk