Published Friday, 01 March 2013
The 15th hole at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena. (© European Tour)
Local golfer Michael Hoey, a four-time winner on the European Tour circuit, will head the field at Galgorm Castle Golf Club from 29 August to 1 September.
Having also won three times on the Challenge Tour, Hoey will be hoping to add to his trophy haul.
The €170,000 Northern Ireland Open Challenge is a chance for the next generation to follow in the footsteps of local heros like world number one Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
It will be the first time Galgorm Castle has hosted a Challenge Tour event.
"We're expecting big crowds to see some of Europe's top young players and some of the more established names, as well as some top quality home grown talent," general manager Gary Henry said.
"The excitement is already building ahead of the tournament and, with the support of the people of Northern Ireland, we plan to make this one of the most exhilarating events on the Challenge Tour's international schedule."
We are delighted to bring the Challenge Tour back to Northern Ireland - which has experienced such great success on the world golfing stage recently and which produced record crowds at last year's Irish Open.
Alain de Soultrait, Challenge Tour
Hoey, whose biggest win came at the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, added: "I am deeply honoured to be the ambassador for the new Challenge Tour event at Galgorm Castle.
"The Challenge Tour was a hugely important part of my early career and has helped me develop into the player I am today.
"By hosting an event in Northern Ireland, Galgorm Castle Golf Club is contributing to the development of the next generation of Irish golfers and I am delighted to be able to play a part in the tournament."
Hoey claimed a top 15 finish the last time Northern Ireland hosted a Challenge Tour event in 2003, when Darren Clarke emerged victorious three weeks after his famous victory at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.