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Damian Mooney is backing tour event for Ulster

By Peter Hutcheon

Graeme McDowell will collect an honourary degree from the University of Ulster at Coleraine today.

The man who is getting used to being called the former US Open champion after seeing Rory McIlroy stealing his title at the Congressional, is being awarded a honourary Doctor of Science degree at special awards ceremony.

Ostensibly it's a week off for McDowell, but he's a man in demand these days and he will also fly to London for a golf day with his equipment sponsors Srixon.

He has tickets to the men's singles final at Wimbledon on Sunday, but he will be back in Northern Ireland on the final day of the PGA EuroPro Open at Galgorm Castle, which starts today.

G-Mac is a member of the Ecurie 25, the only Supercar club in Ireland and he'll be on their stand in the tented village.

Admission is free to this week's EuroPro Open, which includes a strong field of Northern Ireland professionals, including Derry man Michael McGeady, former Walker Cup player Jonny Caldwell from Clandeboye, Simon Thornton from County Down and Belfast's Damian Mooney.

Mooney believes that McDowell's and McIlroy's success can only be good news for Northern Ireland golf.

"What they have done in both winning the US Open is to massively raise the profile of Northern Ireland golf," he said.

"All Northern Ireland players stand to benefit from that, but we what really need is for a European Tour event to be played here.

"That's going to take the money men to set up, but when you have people like Graeme, Rory and Darren Clarke backing it, it really has to happen sooner rather than later."

Mooney, who finished second in the final section of qualifying at the European Tour Q School last year, with a second round 66, but could not go on to secure his Tour card, has just teamed up with Donegal club Ballyliffin in a new sponsorship deal.

"It should be mutually beneficial," he said.

"They've just given honourary lifetime memberships to Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and they are a very forward thing club.

"They have two exception courses there and I'm delighted to be associated with them."

The Galgorm Castle PGA Euro Pro Open continues until Friday.

Meanwhile the Ulster Boys Amateur Open gets underway at Malone today, with 165 competitors taking part.

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