NI Open to become dual tournaments for men and women

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Former number one amateur Leona Maguire plays in the World Invitational

This year the Northern Irish Open is transformed into a new event called the World Invitational, with tournaments for men and women running side by side with equal prize money.

The men's tournament remains part of the second-rate European Challenge Tour, while invitations are offered to the world's best in the women's event.

"Our core values ​​are innovation and inclusiveness," said Chief Executive Officer Keith Pelley of the European Tour

"This new tournament fits perfectly."

Pelley added: "We are so happy that we have another innovative format according to the schedule of the Challenge Tour, following the success of the Jordan Mixed Open earlier this year.

" It is fantastic to see these groundbreaking events appearing more and more on the worldwide golf calendar and we hope they continue to grow with the support of sponsors and broadcasters. "

The 72-hole events, which take place from 15 to 18 August, will see the 300 participants play a day at Massereene Golf Club, alongside their other rounds at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, which is the location of the NI Open since the event began in 2010.

World Vacator to follow Vic Open format

The format for the tournament follows the men's and women's model successfully approved by the Vic Open in Australia.

As is the case with the Australian event, ISPS Handa will be the main sponsor of the new tournament.

The equal prize money will see both fields compete for total funds of $ 250,000 (£ 192,000) while men and women play at both locations on all four days.

Tournament organizers will invite invitations to leading female professionals from both the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour, plus an other players from Asia and Australia.

With the Women & # 39; s British Open and Ladies Scottish Open taking place in the last two weeks, there is optimism that the World Invitational will attract a strong women's field.

US-based Irish players Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow are among those who are expected to compete in an event that will be cut after both the second and third rounds.

The top 60 in both men's and women's fields advance to the third round with 35 players going to the final day in both events.

Pop star Niall Horan, who here presents the NI Open trophy 2017 to Robin Sciot-Siegrist, supports the event

Pop star Horan to support a new event

Pop star Niall Horan, whose golf management company Modest! Golf has been behind the NI Open for a long time, thinks that the new format "can deliver something very special".

"We started playing golf with the aim of helping and developing the next generation of players. To support a tournament such as this exciting new World Invitational, we will bring that goal to maturity," Horan added to.

"The entire Modest! Team is delighted to partner with ISPS Handa, a wonderful organization synonymous with promoting the game around the world and helping bring people together through sport. "

The World Invitational will continue a major golf summer in Northern Ireland with the Open Championship four weeks earlier at nearby Royal Portrush.

Since the start of the third round EuroPro Tour in 2010, the Northern Ireland Open has evolved into an event where the attendance records of the European Challenge Tour have consistently been broken since the advance to the second layer [194]. 59002]

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