Conor McKenna (Head professional), Christy O’Connor Jnr (course designer) and Andy Whelan (club president) at the launch of the Kingspan Concra Wood OpenEuropean Tour player Simon Thornton has warned competitors playing in next week’s Kingspan Concra Wood Open that straight hitting will be required to succeed at the Christy O’Connor Jnr designed course in Castleblayney.

Newcastle Co Down based Thornton, who recently finished 33rd at the Irish Open at Royal Portrush holds the course record at Concra Wood, a 68 carded in a PGA Sprint event in 2010.

“Concra Wood is one of the best courses in the country – full stop. It is absolutely fantastic,” said Thornton.

“The players will have to find the fairways off the tee. The fairways are not very wide but at the same time there are bail-out areas. It is important to know where you cannot hit it off the tee.

“The second shots are not overly difficult but there is often no point in hitting driver all the time. Sometimes you are going to have to lay back and hit full shots into the greens which are superb putting surfaces.”

Final preparations are underway at the Castleblayney venue ahead of the tournament week will run July 9-13th. A Pro-Am and gala dinner on July 10th will be followed by the three-day tournament 11-13th.

Entry is free for all spectators and young golfers can avail of free coaching lessons courtesy of Junior Golf Ireland, who will be on site during tournament week.