Northern Ireland news

Irish Open to take place in Co Antrim next month, European Tour confirms

Chief executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE Irish Open will take place in Co Antrim next month, the European Tour has confirmed.

Reports earlier this week suggested the tournament would move north of the border to enable players to avoid quarantine restrictions in the Republic.

Tour organisers today said the event will be staged at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena for the first time from September 24-27.

The tournament had originally been planned to take place at Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny in May, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Playing the competition in Northern Ireland will allow competitors to travel from the US Open without having to quarantine.

In a statement, the European Tour said: "With quarantine restrictions for travellers into the Republic of Ireland ongoing and the ban on mass gatherings still in place, the European Tour made the decision to move the tournament to Northern Ireland where it will be subject to similar guidelines to the current ‘UK Swing’ events, including being played behind closed doors.

"Planning remains on-going for the tournament to return to Mount Juliet in 2021 providing all health guidelines in place at that time can be met."

Keith Pelley from the European Tour, said the event 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".

Economy minister Diane Dodds 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," she said.

"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: "This outstanding tournament is steeped in history and we look forward to welcoming some of the best players in the world".

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