Northern Ireland Open qualifiers details announced

Michael Hoey (centre) with the Ulster Bank's Neil Cooke (right) and Sphere Global managing director Sean McNicholl
Michael Hoey will be the Northern Ireland Open tournament ambassador for the third successive year

Northern Ireland Open organisers have announced details of pre-qualifying events for this year's tournament at Galgorm Castle.

Knock in Belfast will stage a qualifier on Monday, 11 May while another will also take place at Redditch Golf Club in Worcestershire on 18 May.

Organisers hope that the qualifier at the English midlands venue should further raise the profile of the event.

The top two from each qualifier will progress to the tournament proper.

As has been the case in recent years, the winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Strokeplay event at Galgorm Castle on 9 June will also qualify for the Challenge Tour event at the Ballymena club.

This year's Northern Ireland Open will be staged from 6-9 August which is three weeks earlier than previous years.

"We are fortunate the Northern Ireland 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," said Northern Ireland Open tournament director Gary Henry.

The 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 intention to try and secure the earlier date.