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Richard Kilpatrick hopes local knowledge will play a part in his Irish Open debut

Banbridge golfer Richard Kilpatrick knows his way about Portstewart Golf Club, and he's hoping that will show as he makes his Irish Open debut.

Kilpatrick is one of six PGA in Ireland professionals that have qualified to compete at the European Tour event.

Damien McGrane, David Higgins, Colm Moriarty, Neil O'Briain, Simon Thornton and Kilpatrick all booked their places in the field via the 2016 Order of Merit standings.

It will be a unique experience for Kilpatrick, who, at 35 years of age, will be making his first Irish Open appearance.

“I can't wait. The crowds, the buzz, the field that is being assembled. I can't wait to tee it up, let it go and see what happens. It will be some test,” said Richard.

“It means a lot to get to play in my first Irish Open at Portstewart. My aunt has a place in the town and I played the course a lot as an amateur. Even now, during the winter and when I can in the summer months I try to get up and play. The club professional, Neil Graham, has been very good in accommodating me.”

Richard spent the best part of eight years playing on the Challenge Tour, Alps Tour and EuroPro Tour before opting to follow the PGA route. He is in the third year of his training and is based at his local Banbridge GC, working under Head Professional Jason Greenaway.

“I knew that I wanted to stay involved in golf and for me to do that, the PGA has been a good path,” he added.

“I'm learning a lot both in terms of the the technical side and the business side of the game and I'm still getting a chance to play.”

He has performed impressively on the PGA in Ireland circuit in recent seasons, and has two wins to his name in 2017 at the PGA Irish Club Pro-Am and the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals.

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