Top under-18 in NI Amateur Open will earn spot in European Challenge Tour event

Tom McKibbin in action during last year's Northern Ireland Open
2015 World Under-12 Champion Tom McKibbin played in last year's Northern Ireland Open

Both the winner and top under-18 finisher at the Northern Ireland Amateur Open at Galgorm Castle on 18 July will clinch places in the NI Open at the Ballymena venue in August.

The decision to grant an NI Open spot to the top under-18 finisher is an innovation in the amateur event.

Pop star Niall Horan's golf management company came up with the idea in order to boost youth golf.

Last year, Horan's company invited Tom McKibbin to play in the NI Open.

2015 World Under-12 champion McKibbin went on to perform creditably as he hit rounds of 80 and 76.

Horan's Modest Golf are again involved in promoting this year's NI Open and are also backing the earlier amateur event.

"These guys are the future stars of the game and we want to support this next generation of talent," said Mullingar man Horan.

The format for the amateur event on 18 July will again be two rounds of strokeplay and competitors will be aiming to follow a previous list of winners which includes Cormac Sharvin, Dermot McElroy, Reeve Whitson and Tiarnon McLarnon.

Ballymena man McElroy, who has now turned professional, won the amateur event in 2013 and went on to finish an outstanding ninth at the NI Open a few weeks later.

Sharvin and McElroy have already filed entries for the Challenge Tour event which will take place from 10-13 August.

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