Belfast Telegraph

NI Open: What is the format and can I still get a ticket?


Long wait: Daan Huizing has not won since his 2013 success. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Long wait: Daan Huizing has not won since his 2013 success. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye

By Paul Kelly

The Challenge Tour has returned to Northern Ireland this week at Galgorm Castle with a new format and renewed energy. Innovation is the name of the game as golf's leading tours attempt to encourage new fans.

How does the Sunday Shootout format work?

This year's Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf has launched Shootout Sunday.

By way of explanation, the 156 players who tee up today will be reduced, as usual, to 60 players and ties tomorrow night.

After Saturday's third round there will be another cut with the top 24 going through to Shootout Sunday, where five rounds of six-hole stroke play matches will decide the winner.

It has been broadly welcomed by the players who have accepted the need to shake up the traditional 72-hole strokeplay format that has endured for decades.

"I think it will be good, with more excitement on Saturday as guys try to qualify," said 2013 champion, Daan Huizing. "Once we get into the Shootout on Sunday anything can happen. It's good that we try to change things up."

Huizing's 2013 success came courtesy of a playoff win against Englishman Oliver Wilson but he has not tasted victory since.

When do the main players tee off in their opening rounds?

Daan started his challenge at 7.50 this morning alongside Germany's Moritz Lampert and Englishman, Chris Gane.

Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey, who played with Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill in yesterday's Pro-Am begins at 1.10pm with Chase Koepka and Borja Virto.

Of the home hopes, Ballymena's Dermot McElroy starts at 1.50pm while Cormac Sharvin starts on the 10th tee at 8.30am.

Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge also got under way at 8.30am from the 1st and is eager to make his mark after enduring a season interrupted by wrist trouble.

"I am feeling good. I have had no issues with injury at all since Saint Omer (in June), so I am starting to feel a lot better," said the 25-year-old, who is one of the 24-strong Irish contingent this week.

"It is a great course and a great venue plus it is only 25 minutes from home. This is my fifth event in a row, so it is great to be able to stay at home after a long stretch.

"I have played well there in the past. I came 16th and tied 11th and have had chances to finish really high up the leaderboard - so I have very good memories of the place."

Can I still get a ticket?

Entry is free so if you're free, why not head to Galgorm Castle to see some top quality golf?

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