Horan backing amateurs to move in right direction
Former One Direction singer Niall Horan will lend his personal support to the Northern Ireland Amateur Open at Galgorm Castle through his Modest! Golf company in their quest to develop young Irish talent and provide playing opportunities in the early stages of players' careers.
Already involved in the NI Open at Galgorm, Niall explained: "One of our main objectives starting out with Modest! Golf was to support young talent. We try to give players opportunities that they maybe haven't had before.
"To that extent, the NI Amateur Open is a natural fit for our overall vision.
"To support the NI Amateur Open gives young players a chance to learn more about themselves and their game. That's what we did with local star Tom McKibbin in recent years when he went on to compete in the NI Open."
This year's NI Amateur Open is 36-hole strokeplay and takes place on Tuesday, July 17 at the Co Antrim venue, one week after the GUI's North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.
The NI Amateur Open continues to receive support from Specsavers Ballymena and Srixon/Cleveland, and the winner earns a place in the NI Open at Galgorm from August 16-19.
"At every opportunity, we want to encourage and support young players coming through. Through sponsorship of the NI Amateur Open we give the winner a chance to compete in one of the best events on the European Challenge Tour and in front of record crowds," Niall added.
Knock's Colin Fairweather overcame fellow Irish international and former champion Tiarnan McLarnon and Boys international Thomas Mulligan in a play-off to win last year's NI Amateur Open.
Previous winners include former Walker Cup player Cormac Sharvin, as well as Irish internationals Reeve Whitson and Dermot McElroy.
"Ireland always produces incredible talent," said Modest! Golf Director Mark McDonnell.
"We want to do our bit by creating playing opportunities for young players and give them a chance to compete at the highest level during the early stages of their career when they need the most support.
"Attitude, work ethic and ability are key traits we look for in a player.
"We've always said we are a boutique management company, we want to manage a few players well rather than too many players on our books.
"We have six exciting talents with an average age just under 22. Connor Syme has graduated to the main European Tour, Jack Singh Brar is inside the top 15 on the Challenge Tour and we have some emerging players starting to breakthrough.
"We always wonder how we can make the NI Open better year on year. It's one of the tournaments that jumps out and the players always take note of the date when the schedule is released. They love coming to Galgorm.
"This year will be no different with lots of exciting new things happening such as the NI Open Showstage where live music and bands will play over the weekend of the event to add to the festival atmosphere.
"We're incredibly proud to be part of the NI Open and to promote events at Galgorm.
"There are some really exciting plans for 2019 too, a massive year for golf in Northern Ireland when The Open returns."
Tourism Ireland also plays a key role in the success of the NI Open, and their spokesperson, Aubrey Irwin, said: "The Northern Ireland Open is a wonderful event, giving us an opportunity to showcase our world-class golf courses to a huge number of golfing enthusiasts across the world.
"The 2018 event will once again shine a spotlight on golf here, helping us to highlight our superb parkland courses, which complement the world-class links for which Northern Ireland is known around the world."