Northern Ireland Open: Galgorm event handed date change boost

Current Northern Ireland Open Challenge champion Joakim Lagergren
Joakim Lagergren won last year's Northern Ireland Open Challenge at Galgorm Castle

Northern Ireland Open Challenge organisers believe the event's move to an early August date this year will ensure an even stronger field at the Galgorm Castle event.

The 6-9 August event will see the European Challenge Tour coming to the Northern Ireland venue for the third straight year.

There will be no regular European Tour event that week.

Hence, there is a confidence that a strong field will assemble at Galgorm.

The Galgorm event has broken European Challenge Tour attendances record in the two years that it has been played.

In 2014, over 34,000 spectators came through the gates in 2014 to witness Sweden's Joakim Lagergren pick up the £21,500 winner's cheque.

The 2013 and 2014 events were both staged in the final week of August but it was always Galgorm's intentional to try and secure the earlier date.

Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey has been signed up as tournament ambassador for the third consecutive year and will be one of the many household names in the field.

In addition, several other European Tour players have indicated that they expect to compete at Galgorm.

Last year's event saw other European Tour winners Oliver Wilson, Johan Edfors, Ross McGowan, Kenneth Ferrie and Philip Price also in the field.

A month later, Wilson went on to win the Dunhill Links Championship on the main European Tour.

"We are delighted with the new date on the European Challenge Tour's international schedule and we look forward to welcoming back to Northern Ireland some of the finest players in Europe and beyond," said Galgorm Castle Estates director.

"The NI Open is a great opportunity to put Northern Ireland, Ballymena and Galgorm in front of a global audience of over 350 million.

"For spectators on the ground during tournament week, they will also enjoy the dedicated Food Festival, which proved such a great success last year," added Henry, who is also the Northern Ireland Open's tournament director.

The staging of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational event in the US means that the week is a free date on the European Tour.

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