Sizzling turn out for ISPS Handa Golf World Invitational media day at Galgorm

Malachy McCollum (Massereene Capt), Julie Murray (Galgorm Castle LC), Cllr Gregg McKeen (MEABC), Mayor John Smyth (ANBC), Carolyn O’Shea (Massereene LC), Samuel Graham (Galgorm Castle Capt)

In an extraordinary year for golf in Ireland, a brand new tournament, the ISPS HANDA World Invitational Men/Women, presented by Modest! Golf Management, will take place at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and Massereene Golf Club from August 15-18, 2019 sponsored by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The event is formerly known as the NI Open, the most successful and best-attended event on the European Challenge Tour, has been transformed into a new global event for men and women professionals.

Chair of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Growth Committee, Cllr Gregg McKeen, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming tens of thousands of spectators to Galgorm this year. The global media coverage of this event really helps put us on the map as a tourist destination and enables us to market our fantastic sporting and tourism facilities to a global audience.

“It showcases all that the borough has to offer for golfing fans and international visitors alike bringing with it considerable economic benefits to our tourism, hospitality, retail and transport industries.

“I would like to thank the organisers at Galgorm Golf Club and our partner sponsors for their sustained efforts in bringing this event together and for their continued belief in Mid and East Antrim as a top class location for international events.”

The sun split the skies for the ISPS HANDA World Invitational Sponsors, Ambassadors & Media Day at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort where the scoring was equally as hot.

Teams gathered at Castle Kitchen + Bar at the clubhouse and the banter was in full flow long before any shot was played. It was a toss-up between Liam Beckett or Stephen Ferris as to who was cracking the most funnies while registration took place and bacon rolls were consumed.

A busy timesheet of sponsors, tournament ambassadors, media and invited guests took to the course, which was in pristine condition. Course Manager Rodney McKay and his team did a fantastic job with Galgorm Castle’s championship course. As ever the greens were running true and fast.

On a day of low scoring there could only be one winner of the team competition and that went to Country Garage BMW and Keystone Law NI with an impressive score of 92 points. James Walker, James McMaster, Neil McVeigh and Jonny McKinney teamed up to great effect and shared the spoils.

Cool FM’s guest Paul Bushnell hit the high notes with his impressive 43 points to ensure he was the runaway winner of the individual competition. Galgorm Castle Captain Sam Graham was second with 39 points after edging out Galgorm Castle Lady Captain Julie Murray on a countback.

Tee to Green’s Grahame Jenkins won nearest the pin, while Michael Gallagher from P&O secured the longest drive in a great day all round.

“We had great craic out there today,” said former Ulster, Ireland and Lion ruby player Stephen Ferris. “Although I started ding, bogey, birdie and that was the kind of story of the day, the company was good, and we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

“The course is always in superb condition, I really enjoy coming to play here,” added Ferris, who could be heard having plenty of fun on the course playing alongside fellow Tournament Ambassadors; athlete Michael McKillop, GAA’s Oisin McConville and Kevin Stevens from the GUI Ulster Branch.

Other Ambassadors on show yesterday had a distinctly Northern Ireland World Cup feel with Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong, Steven Penney and John O’Neill teaming up once more.

Ferris is also looking forward to getting back to watch the World Invitational in August (14-18) and believes the introduction of women will draw more crowds.

“The new format is a superb idea. It’s always good to have both the men and women involved in a tournament. You’re not putting all your eggs in one basket with just men competing. It opens it up and this tournament appeals to all the young kids starting out too.

“I’m sure all the players will put on a great show for everyone who comes along to spectate. I’m really looking forward to the event and I’ll definitely be up here for a few days watching it.”

Tickets for the World Invitational are already selling fast. Advanced ticket sales can be made at where spectators can take advantage of the early bird offers and be part of another exceptional week for Irish golf.

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