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Rescheduled Irish Open confirmed for Galgorm Castle in September

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Galgorm Castle hosting the ISPS Handa World Invitational (Philip Magowan/PressEye)

Galgorm Castle hosting the ISPS Handa World Invitational (Philip Magowan/PressEye)

Philip Magowan

Galgorm Castle hosting the ISPS Handa World Invitational (Philip Magowan/PressEye)

It has been confirmed that the rescheduled Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be held at Galgorm Castle in Co Antrim from September 24-27.

The event was originally due to be played at Mount Juliet in May but was postponed due to Covid-19, and will now take place at Ballymena course, which means the tournament will have been played north of the border for the fourth time in the last nine years.

The Irish Open will be played behind closed doors in order to maintain the strict regulations that the European Tour have adopted on the current 'UK Swing' to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

A further blow will see the tournament fall out of the Rolex Series for this year due to the change of course and disruption to the schedule, with the prize fund also being reduced to €1.25 million as a result, however it is hoped there will still be a strong field in attendance.

Due to restrictions imposed on golfers entering Ireland due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made to bring the tournament north of the border to allow for more players to compete, particularly those who would be participating in the previous week's US Open.

The likes of tournament host Graeme McDowell and defending Open champion Shane Lowry are believed to both still be interested in competing, while there is still hope that current World No.1 Jon Rahm may make the trip over to defend his title.

Going forward, Mount Juliet is being lined up as the host of the 2021 Irish Open to make up for not being able to host it this year, with Portstewart believed to be in line to host the 2022 event having originally been scheduled for next year.

Galgorm's hosting of the Irish Open will not affect the Northern Ireland Open on the second-tier Challenge Tour, which is still set to go ahead three weeks earlier from September 3-6.

Keith Pelley, European Tour chief executive, said: "The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is an integral part of the European Tour’s schedule and despite the obvious challenges of staging any event in the current circumstances, we felt it was important to continue with the tournament providing we could do so safely.

"With the ongoing restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, we opted to move the tournament to Northern Ireland and are extremely grateful to Gary Henry and everyone at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort for stepping up to host us."

Diane Dodds, Economy Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, said: “It is wonderful to see top class golf return to Northern Ireland. After the success of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush last year and of recent Irish Opens in Portstewart, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland is proving once again that it is made for golf.

“I want to thank the European Tour and Tourism NI for its work in bringing this prestigious event to Northern Ireland and to Galgorm for stepping in to host it. This will be another opportunity to showcase to the world how Northern Ireland and international golf work well together. I know it will be a huge success.”

Gary Henry, managing director of Galgorm Castle, said: "We are delighted to be the host venue for the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. This outstanding tournament is steeped in history and we look forward to welcoming some of the best players in the world to Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort.

"To host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is an historic moment and wonderful opportunity to showcase the world-class facilities at Galgorm and demonstrates that Northern Ireland is open for business.

"The Northern Ireland Open, supported by The R&A on the European Challenge Tour will also be played at Galgorm at the start of September and so the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be another welcome boost to the local economy."

Belfast Telegraph