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Huge incentives at the NI Amateur Open

By Paul Kelly

Jamie Fletcher returns to defend his Northern Ireland Amateur Open title at Galgorm Castle Golf Club today. The Warrenpoint GC ace edged out local favourite Michael Reid in a dramatic sudden death play-off last year.

The 21-year-old shot rounds of 72 and 69 to finish level with Reid (74, 67) after 36 holes and then birdied the first extra hole - the par-five 18th - to earn his place in the NI Open field.

This year's winner will once again get to play alongside the Challenge Tour's finest at the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf (Aug 10-13).

And, for the first time, he will be joined by the leading U18 player courtesy of an invite from Modest! Golf as they continue to provide playing opportunities for young amateurs, just like they did by inviting teenage sensation Tom McKibbin to play last year.

Niall Horan, Director of Modest! Golf, said: "We are excited to be involved in the NI Amateur Open and are delighted to extend an invitation to the leading Under-18 competitor. These guys are the future stars of the game and we want to support this next generation."

Fellow Modest! Golf Director Mark McDonnell commented: "It's a great platform to test and improve their game and we must thank Galgorm Castle and the European Challenge Tour as always for supporting our values and vision."

The 36-hole Northern Ireland Amateur Open, sponsored by Specsavers Ballymena, has become one of the province's stand-out amateur championships since its inception in 2009.

The opportunity to play alongside the professionals has once again attracted a top-class field. The 2015 champion Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) is back to give it another crack and he has been joined by Knock's Colin Fairweather who lost out in the final of the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush last Friday.

Former Amateur Open winners Cormac Sharvin (2012) and Dermot McElroy (2013) will return to Galgorm in August to compete as touring professionals, illustrating the role tournament golf at Galgorm plays in the development of Ireland's young amateurs and professionals.

Belfast Telegraph

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